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Thread: "Guess-the-Author" Analysis and Critiques

  1. #1221
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    The last weekend of commenting is coming up. Frankly, I'm a little underwhelmed by the response. Come on people, these authors deserve a little feedback!

    On sunday evening I'll reveal the name of the authors.
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  2. #1222
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    Sorry, I've been quite busy; here are my belated responses.

    As always, I'd like to thank each of the five authors for contributing. I know it can take a lot of effort, and the few times I've put in an entry myself I've discovered how hard it can be to take a good idea and turn it into a good story! Please take my criticisms with a grain of salt: I enjoy reading these stories, I'm just a very negative person. All of them were interesting to read, and many of them took the theme in ways I would never have imagined. Thank you for sharing.

    Author #1

    As always, I have no idea who the author is. The only thing I can say here is that it's someone who speaks English as a second language...but who is obviously extremely fluent in it. There were only a couple of hints at this - phrases like the thigh of the hog, in my face or achieve donations point to a slight unfamiliarity with English - but they are all perfectly understandable, and the level of vocabulary and grammar throughout is quite high - in fact, a little too high: the use of the past perfect in the story made it stick out, since the tense is sadly dying out among native speakers (to the point that professional editors often change it into the past tense to avoid confusing their readers!). That doesn't narrow it down very much, but it does leave me impressed with the author's ability to write in a foreign language.

    I found the story interesting but a little predictable - and because of that, the ending wasn't really a twist. One line early in the story hinted too strongly at the ending: Maybe he could take her away as a prize. After I read that, I assumed that Brennus hadn't come with honorable intentions. It would have been harder to guess that if he had thought about what a fine prize she would make - a subtle difference that could mean wishful thinking.

    I would have preferred to have heard more about the cultural differences between Parisii and Roman in the story - the Roman reaction to the barbarian in their midst seems understated. The serving girl/daughter seems completely at home with the barbarian chief, the guests do not make rude comments, the host does not single him out for attention or give his comments more tolerance. Why? Is there a history of contact between their peoples? At first it seems so, because Brennan has such beautiful, flowery Latin, and has no problem understanding their conversations. But then, he also makes a big point about never having seen such fine things before. Is he lying to flatter his hosts? Or is this villa so much grander than the other villas he's surely been to before? Or is something else going on here? I would have loved to have explored his history with the Romans, for surely there was one.

    I found some of the story a little hard to believe, but then, I'm a nitpicker. One guest is mentioned as promising the support of his province - which, during the Republic, would make him one of the most powerful men in Rome. Surely there would be more than a 'few score' guards protecting a man this powerful - let alone Crescentius, to whom such a powerful figure was pledging his loyalty? Surely each of these prestigious guests travelled with bodyguards - especially if the villa was in the countryside and not in a city where an army would be stationed and surely see the Parisii coming. But I'm making assumptions here, and probably bad ones: Brennus hints at having destroyed the Roman Legions already, and Rome did not always achieve victory over the barbarians, and assuming these powerful men were suspicious or intelligent is often a bad assumption, as we're discovering at home with the economy these days...

    Overall I found the story a bit too one-sided; Brennus was a little too capable, with no mistakes or nervousness that would make him sympathetic and human. It would make a good introduction to a story, where a character's strengths are shown in the opening chapter, but as a short story alone it could use more fleshing out.

    Author #2

    This is obviously meant as an introduction rather than a whole story, so I'll treat it as such.

    I found it mildly interesting, but it left more questions than answers. Byzantium seems to have conquered Pommerania - and from the sounds of things, perhaps also Poland in the recent past, not long enough for the natives to have learned Greek language or religion in self-defence or through contact with missionaries, traders and soldiers. What's going on? When exactly is this set? Why was Romanos given this post - as a reward or punishment? It's hard to say, which is good for an introduction, but at the same time, the questions aren't posed very clearly - I wouldn't be sure that the rest of the story would be answering them anytime soon.

    My main criticism of the story is that nothing is given much detail. The conversations with the locals and with Romanos' own staff is largely summarized for us, without much information. It's as if the author wants to rush through this to get to the meat of the story - but of course, in a short story there isn't anything else. I would have liked to have gotten to know Romanos a bit more - what kind of person is he? What does he think of the locals? Of his posting? Of his wife? Are his staff efficient and capable? Untrustworthy and corrupt? Loyal to him? What do the locals think of him and the Greeks that have so recently conquered them? Where is the simmering resentment, or the priests who decry each other's heretic faith? Where are the daughters being hidden, or of a great feast being called for the new overlords? It seems like the locals are incredibly indifferent to their new masters, and vice-versa. I know that it's hard to write detail and get anywhere in such a short amount of text, but it's important to grab the reader and make them care...and question.

    Author #3

    I loved the first line - it set the stage and hinted at either comedy or tragedy to come. The story didn't really get there, but it didn't really have to. I was rather surprised to find that this was World War 2 and not the Great War; something about it seemed to present itself as the Great War, but looking back on it I don't see anything that explicitly promised it.

    The Welsh accent was pretty difficult to read. I'm sure that was on purpose, but it slowed me down and made it that much harder to read the story. I'm not sure what you could have done differently, but it was a bit jarring.

    Overall I quite liked it, but at the end of the story I was left feeling a little confused about what insight the socialist well-bred Englishman had garnered from the conservative, working-class Welshman. He seems to have seen it much more clearly than I do - perhaps that's just the late hour, though.

    Author #4

    The concept of matching together several of history's greatest figures together is an engaging one and caught my interest from the first paragraph - although I was left confused about who 'Henry' was until later, when he mentioned Eleanor. That's not a bad thing - it first left me feeling left out of an in-joke, but also made me want to read more, and when I figured it out (or the identity of Thomas) I felt good, like I'd done something bright - in other words, it's a trick that worked well on me. Although I still have no idea who "Laurent" is - the only famous Laurent I know is Louis St. Laurent, who I really wouldn't be happy seeing in Hell. Please share after your identity is revealed, it's driving me nuts. Mostly, though, it felt like a charming sort of conversation that could never have happened on Earth.

    At the same time, it was a dangerous issue - Hell is a prickly topic with many people. Being religious myself, I was a little irked to see a weekly chess game for some of history's vilest characters. Having a devil apologize to one of them made it feel like their eternal torments weren't really that bad. Furthermore, the names and faces were all famous figures - but surely for every Stalin there were a thousand men even more evil whose deeds did not get recognized because they existed before written history, or because historians got it wrong, or because they simply happened to live in Africa or India and the millions of lives weren't judged as bad. If we're judging based on the number of people whose lives were made worse by them, why would Henry and Eleanor be in the same league as Stalin - and where is Pol Pot, whose murdered millions must surely be counted worse than Thomas Jefferson's ownership of a few slaves? The moral of the story seems to be that if you're a petty evil-doer, you go to Hell...but if you're a famous evil-doer, you go to Hell and get to play chess and have witty conversation with other great men. That's not exactly how I'd like to think of it...

    As you can see, one of my traits is that I over-analyze things. It didn't hurt my enjoyment of the story...but it left a sour taste in my mouth afterwards, when I started to think about it. That's a problem any time you introduce a science fiction/fantasy topic like this - it gets people thinking. But as long as you don't try to probe into the essence of it yourself, most readers won't think too deeply about it and simply appreciate a well-told story. I'm just weird.

    I liked the discussion itself - the topic ranged around and talked about many possible topics, including why the men were found together and the nature of different ideologies. It does seem surprising, though, that after (in some cases) hundreds of years of torture, that none of these men had changed their political points of view - because certainly their language has changed dramatically, and the characters clearly know about what has happened in the years since their deaths! But there I go again over-analyzing it. Overall it was very enjoyable to read, and for a short story, there is no need to make it internally consistent. If this were to be made a novel, though, I think the inconsistencies would drive me insane.

    The English in the story was mostly good, but clearly not the writer's native language. Lots of grammatical errors like "In 15 minutes begins the whipping" or "raw points" or simply seeing a space between a word and an exclamation mark made it clear that this wasn't a native speaker. For the most part this wasn't immersion-breaking, as the English was almost always understandable. The only concern I have is that sometimes words in English are not commonly understood by English speakers! I am thinking here of 'peruke', which I had to look up in a dictionary. I have a relatively large vocabulary and used to teach ESL for three years, so I'm embarrassed to admit to not knowing a word; when I first saw it I used context to determine it was probably some sort of archaic hat - even after I realized the identity of 'Thomas'. I was surprised to discover it meant a wig! Well, perhaps it's an American thing...but you should be careful to give hints about uncommon words like this (and I wish that more dictionaries would include a comment beside a word listing how common it was precisely for people learning the language - I had many students who chose a perfectly appropriate but extremely rare word when translating something that made it nearly unreadable to native speakers).

    This was probably my favorite story of the five.

    Author #5

    I've read this twice over now and I'm still not sure what I just read.

    I have to say, it's incredibly funny - but also confusing. In a short story I want a little more clarity - tell me what the contest is for and I'll be laughing with each new entry; leave it to me to figure it out by the end and I'll sit and become increasingly confused.

    It certainly would explain how a lot of universes gets designed in stories! The "Order of the Stick" web comic (which I highly recommend to anybody who's ever played a game of D&D in their lives) had a vaguely similar explanation for why the world had so many unusual culture clashes (e.g. orc ninjas) - multiple 'authors' forced to 'write' together.

    It reminds me ever so slightly of some of the humor Sci Fi stories of Isaac Asimov, or other writers from the 1940s and 50s. And...er...yeah. Seriously, I have no idea how to respond to this one. Good job.
    Last edited by dharper; 22-03-2009 at 18:50.
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  3. #1223
    Evil Genius The Yogi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharper View Post
    Sorry, I've been quite busy, but I will respond to each story. Consider this a placeholder for my answers.
    Great!

    If the problem is about finding enough time, I don't think anyone would object to a postponement of the deadline.

    If you would like to comment, but doubt that you could make it before the deadline, just put in a placeholde like dharper and I'll extended the deadline for another week.
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  4. #1224
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    I'm planning to finish my commentary for the other 2 posters. I actually had a response entirely written the other day, but when I tried to post it said I'd re-logged in since I started the reply and so I'd need to sign in, and while saying this it deleted everything I'd written...

    And, naturally, I didn't (as I usually do) copy my post before submitting it, which is a habitual safeguard I've developed to prevent this from happening.

    So I'll have to re-write everything, which is easier than posting it in the first place. I'll just have to remember what I wrote. Should have this up soon.

    Who ELSE wants to comment?! Seriously, if you have 5 entries, the very least number of commenters you should expect is 5. Where is everybody?

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  5. #1225
    Evil Genius The Yogi's Avatar
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    A bit miffed about the lack of commenters.

    OK, last chance - I'm prolonging the comments time until next Sunday, March 29. Then I'll reveal the names of the five authors and propose a new topic, no matter the level of interest.

    Given the extremely low interest in this round, I feel we'd need some sort of perk or bonus for writers and commentators both. Only I have very few ideas what it could be. Perhaps (and I'm brainstorming here, I haven't checked the idea with canonised) if each commenter could pick a favourite entry, the most popular one could be a regular feature in the AARlander?
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  6. #1226
    Roman LibrAARian comagoosie's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great idea!

    I am sure canonized will be quick to agree. There are never enough articles for AARlander
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  7. #1227
    Dei Gratia author dharper's Avatar
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    Okay, I'm all done. <phew>
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  8. #1228
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    Author #1: Dinner Party

    Overall, I quite like this piece. Excellent descriptions all around – there's a real writers eye for detail in this one and probably quite a lot of effort involved – but the story itself falls flat for me.

    I think the main reason is that it is utterly predictable; The story is hardly begun before we are told Chief Brennan's inner thoughts: ”Maybe he could take her away as a prize”. Not as a ”gift”, not a general ”acquire her”, not an opportunity to ”use her”, but ”take her away as a prize”.

    From that point on it really does not matter what is going on – Brennan is planning treachery of one sort or another and, given that GTA authors are usually milksops, he is going to succeed and leave with the girl and whatever else he wants. It goes without saying that the girl is the daughter of the house – whenever a stranger is greeted by somebody introduced only as a girl, who is attractive or pleasant or in any ways whatsoever not described as nondescript, it is always the daughter of the house, the jewel of her father's eye, and so on and so forth. You can bet on it. The only question is whether she'll show her soon-to-be-abductor any sign of favour or not before she is carried off to a fate worse than death(tm). (See comment of milksops – the girl flutters her eyelashes when she seats him; a possibly hint that, even when her world falls in ruins, she might not dislike all that befalls her. That said, authors can be so cruel to innocent bit players)

    But where the descriptions are excellent, the dialogue suffers. Whether this is a case of a non-native writer of English, a lack of time to polish the piece, or merely a lack of experience I cannot tell. It isn't bad, but it suffers by comparison. In addition, a few lines of dialogue are downright poor.

    The worst is perhaps this one: ”Thank you for your hospitality, and may I add that this is a grand palace. I am but a simpleton in the presence of you, as my halls are made of sturdy wood and so are my tables.”

    Now, it is obvious that this is a setup for yet another roman/barbarian comparison, which is fine, but that the barbarian chief would describe himself as a simpleton does not fit in at all. It is, quite simply, the wrong word for the occasion. Calling himself a simpleton means calling himself a person ”lacking in common sense” - it does not mean what I think the author intended: a simpler and less complex man or one used to lesser luxuries (or whatever – a way of flattering his host by stating how much better off the host is: ”you are such a great man, I am such a lesser man” approach).

    Finally, I don't understand why the author has the chief whispering the ”nice job” message to his soldier at the end. He has the situation under control and there seems to be absolutely no reason whatsoever not to praise his men. I also wonder how come Chief Brennan thinks of his men as soldiers rather than, as would seem more appropriate, warriors, men, or followers. Of all the terms that can be used to describe the armed followers of a tribal chieftain, soldiers is one of the least appropriate.

    If I seem to harp on and on, it is perhaps because the feeling I had after re-reading it a time or two was that it could have been so much better with just a bit more effort from the writer: a great potential devastated by errors of execution.



    Author #2: Sightseeing in the North

    He came, he saw, and he took charge. There may be the gem of a story here in the making, but overall it reads like a travelogue with a few worries and a bit of background thrown in. It does a good job a presenting some basic cultural differences from a quite aloof perspective, which does seem fitting to the coming landlord, and perhaps it really does not need anything else.

    The entry is well written and the errors few.


    Author #3: Life in the Foxhole

    Right, let me start out with a short statement about one thing that I absolutely, unconditionally, and unrepentantly loathe in a story: when the author tries to pass off a brogue as an indication of culture, charm, or wit. ”Ya, guv'nohr, 'tats et, een't et??” and the many variations thereof are to me like a red flag is to...somebody who really hates red flags, if you know what I mean, and I'm sure that you do.

    ...To take the bull by the horns, three pages of deliberately making a conversation harder to read in order to emphasize that people come from different social strata is something that should be left to the great writers. Amateurs should stick to using different areas of the vocabulary. You don't need to mangle speech by rendering it unreadable to clearly show differences in the speakers' backgrounds, cultures, or social standing.

    ...It is on the level of having every single dwarf in a fantasy movie sound Scottish, simple, and preferably half drunk, except that rather than listening to it, you are forcing the unwary reader to read it. HINT! Many of those dwarfs, in English literature, speak perfectly readable English.

    That aside.... This is probably my favourite entry this time around. The setting is near perfect, the cultural clash obvious for all to see and the clear focus of the story from the start until the end. Strip it of the writing impediments strongly hinted at above and it retains the sharp social and cultural stratification. Two men, two very different worldviews, and both men indelibly marked by their class. War, pacifism, duty, and courage in a foxhole – of such things are great sketches made.

    It goes without saying that the ”salt of the earth” dash ”simple man and true” turns out to have the most insightful views on the situation discussed to the point that the ”upper crust” comes out gaining in wisdom by questioning his assumptions while both men gain, insofar as their classes allow, a mutual friendship or, at the very least, the beginnings thereof. That is such a classic setup that any other outcome would be surprising, but it is done well.

    So thumbs up on this one, but, for the love of all that is holy, stick with plain English. You aren't good enough to carry off regional dialects in a way that will benefit the reader (who may be English or may be foreign, who may have heard the regional dialect you are trying to imitate or may not – you are basically self-selecting a decent percentage of your likely readers, whom you want to have trouble reading your story; unintentionally, perhaps, but that's the effect).

    Not being good enough to carry it off is not a terrible flaw: very few people are.


    Author #4: Just another pseudo-philosphical day in Hell

    As others have noticed, it is hard to find any real cultural clash here. This is standard pseudo-philosophical claptrap as we all know and love it – easy to read, quite funny, some great throwaway jokes and short on significance.

    That is not necessarily a bad thing, mind you – I love light entertainment of this type and this is a very decent attempt – but it does make it harder to critique.

    With regards to the level of philosophical discourse on the state between the damned sovereigns, I think we can all agree that this isn't quite up to Plato's standards, but it probably was not intended to be the case in the first place.

    There are a couple of typos that hurt the story slightly (referring to Friedrich as the ”grumpy old men of the society” being the worst) and grammatical errors abound.

    As jokes go, it is almost a criminal shame that the very best one and the funniest paragraph in the entire entry got used right at the start. I refer, of course, to:
    Iossif saw a wicked grin on Henry`s face.
    “A new game ?”, Henry asked.
    “What else...”, Iossif answered with unveiled despair, “Why don`t they hook up this place to the Internet so we can play something different ?”
    Henry looked him deep in the eyes.
    “Oh...yes....Hell, I remember.”
    The ”why are things so bad” or ”why don't we get just this one thing to make it better” --- ”oh, right, because we are in hell and things aren't supposed to get better” is a very, very, old joke that is, in this case, pulled off nearly flawlessly. You can vividly imagine Henry's look of contempt mixed with pity that answers Iossif's question and Iossif sinking, defeated and dejected, as he is once again brought face to face with a self-realization he would once have rejected out of hand.

    Write more of that quality!



    Author #5: Genesis

    A latter-day masterpiece of the creationist genre, this entry demonstrates what happens when you slack a bit on the criteria in the selection of demiurges and shows some familiar dangers of design by committee taken to extremes.

    It should come with a warning to ”read twice, understand once” for the author has chosen a remarkably bizarre format, throwing the reader in at the deep end and leaving him to swim or sink on his own cognizance, with sinking being the most likely outcome.

    It does actually all make sense in its own fashion, but anybody merely skimming the text or leaving out the odd line here or there is likely to have no idea whatsoever about what is going on. With only very few exceptions, practically every line carries a meaning that is essential to understanding a later line in another paragraph... and every paragraph at least two or three jokes made at the expense of popular fantasy or science fiction literature/movies of the worst kind.

    Now, it is no secret that I love stuff like this, but the entry suffers greatly from a lack of editorial control. Too many typos, too many lines that could have been tighter, a feel of overall sloppiness in the madness (this may be intentional; it is hard to tell), and too much reliance on the reader to fill in the blanks. A single chapter at the very start outlining just what the master and apprentice were doing would, admittedly, spoil the revelation in chapter 5, but it would make the damn thing readable and probably considerably more enjoyable to the average reader. The actual cultural clash only takes place in chapter 6 – until that point, there's absolutely nothing to indicate to the reader that the entry is actually on topic.

    Good work overall... but lacking in planning and execution.

    EDIT: Actually, come to think of it, I got much the same overall feeling from reading #5 as I did from #1, their very different natures being ignored for a moment: that it could, and should, have been so much better with just a bit more effort from the writer.
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  9. #1229
    Dei Gratia author dharper's Avatar
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    Darn it, Peter, you're a tough act to follow. Or, er, precede, as the case may be. Every time you comment on stories I feel like going back and erasing everything I've said and realizing how petty and narrow my criticisms have been.
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  10. #1230
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharper View Post
    Although I still have no idea who "Laurent" is - the only famous Laurent I know is Louis St. Laurent, who I really wouldn't be happy seeing in Hell. Please share after your identity is revealed, it's driving me nuts.
    I assumed that it was Laurent Kabila (lately of the Exceedingly Democratic Hellhole of Congo) as that would make excellent sense with respect to his timing of interjections, but I'm sure the author will clear it up in due time if I'm wrong.
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  11. #1231
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharper View Post
    Darn it, Peter, you're a tough act to follow. Or, er, precede, as the case may be. Every time you comment on stories I feel like going back and erasing everything I've said and realizing how petty and narrow my criticisms have been.
    That's because you are merely a minister without portfolio while I am a conqueror. You may kneel, peasant.

    To be just a slight bit more serious: GTA has had a big problem since the start, the same problem that affects most of the AAR forum, namely that people are very poor at providing useful criticism. We are all (and I include myself in that number) so nice and lovey-dovey and we know how hard it can be to write that we tend to dig hard for the positive aspects of entries while trying to minimize or excuse the negative aspects. That sort of mutual backpatting feels very nice and it may help smoothe out some of the worst transgressions but overall it provides remarkably little of value to the writer or other readers save feeling good about themselves and the community.

    Which is very nice - just not useful criticism.

    I do try to push myself into slightly harsher criticism than the average but it is usually a weak effort.... because I know just how hard it can be and because I know that some people, and I have no idea if it is the case for a particular participant or not, just cannot stand harsh criticism.

    That said, the purpose of GTA was originally (more or less) to attempt to (who would have guessed) Guess The Author and provide comments rather than merely criticism, but in practice that was lost two years ago and, with the wide field of potential authors, that is perhaps not surprising.
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  12. #1232
    GunslingAAR coz1's Avatar
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    I know I for one am guilty of not responding and that is truly my own fault. This project always seems to have a difficult time gaining awareness which is sad, though I have found that a regular schedule and limited offerings present the best combination for readership over time. Limiting the offerings does mean people have to wait to write, but it also means less for the reader to comment upon. We wouldn't want just one each month, but three or four is about the max for presentable length given schedules of the members and time devoted to reading other AARs, writing their own and RL. The regular schedule just allows for people to expect it. The less to read allows for a quicker read and more focused critique, IMO.

    As for the style of critique, I have always favored more in depth ones myself, but to gain a following, I think any mode of criticism will do. Some people have less to say than others. The rule was always keep it civil. Beyond that, anyone has free rein to discuss anything about it. I wish people would look at each with a deeper critical eye, but if they just want to look at the nice points, I think it can still help a writer, especially those dabbling here.

    The guess is even harder now - there are just too many people to get so familiar with a writing style. I always considered that secondary to GtA anyway. The fun was getting to write something short and sweet.
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  13. #1233
    Dei Gratia author dharper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coz1 View Post
    This project always seems to have a difficult time gaining awareness which is sad
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen
    That said, the purpose of GTA was originally (more or less) to attempt to (who would have guessed) Guess The Author and provide comments rather than merely criticism, but in practice that was lost two years ago and, with the wide field of potential authors, that is perhaps not surprising.
    ...Perhaps these two are connected. New readers who see the "Guess the Author" thread might be put off by the name - after all, how many new readers can name more than one or two authors?

    Consider changing the name to something more descriptive of what GtA has become - say, "Forum Short Story Contest".
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  14. #1234
    Roman LibrAARian comagoosie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dharper View Post
    ...Perhaps these two are connected. New readers who see the "Guess the Author" thread might be put off by the name - after all, how many new readers can name more than one or two authors?

    Consider changing the name to something more descriptive of what GtA has become - say, "Forum Short Story Contest".
    Then they might be put off by all the sudden critique. But I don't have a better name, so you win.
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  15. #1235
    Evil Genius The Yogi's Avatar
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    It might well be that the critique here is still kind of benign, when perhaps it shouldn't... but it's still much harsher than the one offered in the form of AAR comments.

    I'd agree that we could to deliver more poignant critique. But those who critique are also of very varied skill as writers. Taking myself as an example, I can only critique as well as a write, and many gaffes might pass uncommented simply because I would have committed them myself and do not realise they're flaws.

    Therefore its doubly important that the more skilled writers of the forum visit here regularly to offer analysis and critique. Having had some (read: A LOT!) of help from Lord Durham who had twice reviewed a short story of mine, I can say that such harsh but knowledgeable critique is invaluable for a writer.

    Having said that, I don't think there's anything wrong with lauding those things that work in a text. That's also usefull feedback!
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  16. #1236
    Evil Genius The Yogi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coz1 View Post
    Limiting the offerings does mean people have to wait to write, but it also means less for the reader to comment upon. We wouldn't want just one each month, but three or four is about the max for presentable length given schedules of the members and time devoted to reading other AARs, writing their own and RL. The regular schedule just allows for people to expect it. The less to read allows for a quicker read and more focused critique, IMO.
    Good points, coz1. We might do well to consider four contributions as the absoulte upper limit, and go ahead with a round even if we get only two or three contributions.

    Regarding a regular schedule, once a month might well be all that we can manage. Ideally, one week for preparing an entry would be enough, but in practice a few days are lost to "friction". In this last round, some of the writers were very pressed for time. And these submissions should not be hurried. Therefore I'd say two weeks from announcement of topic to deadline is a minimum. It also seems people need two weeks to be able to offer critique.
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  17. #1237
    Dei Gratia author dharper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by comagoosie View Post
    Then they might be put off by all the sudden critique. But I don't have a better name, so you win.
    The name was totally off the top of my head. Why not have a naming contest? Let people PM you names, and then hold a vote on it.
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  18. #1238
    GunslingAAR coz1's Avatar
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    Is a name change really necessary? It does say immediately after GtA - "Analysis and Critiques." I don't see that as too confusing.
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  19. #1239
    Evil Genius The Yogi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coz1 View Post
    Is a name change really necessary? It does say immediately after GtA - "Analysis and Critiques." I don't see that as too confusing.
    Agree. I wouldn't want to change the name. It has history, it tells us that the authors are anonymous and whatever else needs to be known is explanied by the following line.
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  20. #1240
    A Smooth Operator Brandenburg III's Avatar
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    Here’s an idea for GtA and I’m borrowing some ideas dished out within the last string of posts.

    The writers should be kept at about 3. In my own personal opinion, five is too many but I have problems reading a single narrative online. If there are five authors then anyone wanting to critique just one will feel compelled to critique five and that’s a lot when considering AARs already being read, the possibility of an AAR being written on top of real life goings on. There should be a cut off somewhere and if there are extra volunteers then they ought to wait until the following session. In this way you may even breed more people who’ll critique because they’ll want people to critique their work.

    My borrowed idea from someone else along here is, what if a winner was chosen to star in AARlander? If canonized approves, of course. My spin on this would be to have the critiques go on followed by some kind of week long vote.

    Week 1: the first three writers write

    Week 2: Critiques; vote on the first three writers

    Week 3: Bring out a new triplet of writers

    Week 4: Critiques and vote on the second group.

    The winner of Week 2 and 4 (week 4 would end when the AARlander is released) are put into the AARlander as one article. A vote could then occur here on week one between the two winners. At the end of the voting it could then be revealed who wrote the posts. It could be argued that the time between week 1 and the final reveal is too long but I’m guessing the “Guess the Author” thread was never about fame.

    The main problem with GtA, as Peter Ebbesen wrote, is that guessing the author these days is impossible but I have a way to solve this. In addition to the final week of voting, all the names of the writers who contributed could be put together (out of order and in this thread) and the reader could then try to fit them in one place or another. In this way the Guess the Author’s reason for existing will be kept and the guessers won’t be picking randomly. With even a few people guessing and the bi-weekly critiques, hopefully this thread will stay somewhere near the top.

    If a writer can’t get you a piece within the time known (I believe that’s more of a lack of will on the writer’s part) then perhaps you ought to build a small stable of reliable writers who would be willing to contribute. In this way you’ll always have three submissions and you won’t have to hold the competition hostage. GtA also won’t suffer from being irregular.

    The involvement of the AARlander isn’t a primary concern as I think GtA could do this on its own but a mention of the top two posts in the AARlander would grant the GtA a possible return to fame and the AARlander its much needed articles.

    A problem some have with critiquing, and I’ve come into this with friends who volunteered to read what I wrote, is that they say, “I’m not qualified.” They feel if they’re not full-time editors then their opinions aren’t valid and this is detrimental because it not only means there will be fewer critique efforts but fewer posts keeping this near the top. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s anything you can do to fix that problem but it would be something to think about.*

    With all this said, it shouldn’t take a writer anymore than a week to pump out something so short. It also shouldn’t take someone more than a week to critique a post. To keep GtA alive you might have to be strict and say “Here’s the cut off point. We have to make GtA an active place with a decent turnaround.” Because if GtA isn’t going to have a schedule then nobody will know when to look, when to write and it’ll turn into a posting mess with things never getting on track.

    * A possible solution would be to have anonymous critiques where people send their critiques privately to whoever is running GtA at any given time.
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