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CatKnight

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Didn't think this was still active. I'm happy to see it is.


Author 1: I believe Peter nailed your game perfectly.

I really enjoyed your piece. You managed to capture the 'grandeur' of war inexperienced recruits feel (everyone's reactions to the Gold Captain and later the Green Bishop) and, by focusing on the Bishop, the intense weariness and loss of hope I imagine one would feel from an endless war. I especially liked his 'transfer' to what appears to be a scene out of the board game 'Clue.' Very clever.

Author 2: I'm not sure if that was your intent, but you made me hate the comte very deeply, and very early on with his arrogance. Your use of dialogue was excellent, though I wonder if it went a tad long.

I enjoyed your description of the duel, but honestly I'm not sure WHAT happened to the comte: You have his hand rushing to his should(er)?, then a deep pain in his ankle. Obviously the abbe didn't stab him or pricking his finger wouldn't have been necessary. Also, the abbe's letting him stay after going to the trouble of negotiating terms read a little false.

Author 3: As others have mentioned, a bit verbose. I like what you were attempting to do, but I think you need to simplify.

A few of your entries were obviously written by highly intelligent people, and if you intentionally chose more complex words to represent them you're to be congratulated. On the other hand, you do want to be concise. A few times I felt myself losing focus picking my way through what they were saying. The side details (tea waiting for me, etc.) are nice for characterization, but in something this short you need to get to the point.

Author 4: In general I liked your piece. Good descriptions and solid interaction between your characters. A few minor suggestions:

First, by constantly going flashback-present-flashback-present, it disrupts your reader's ability to keep up and see what's going on in their mind. Far better to perhaps show Guillaume clearly losing his fight, then replaying the critical part of the battle, then asking Henry how he did it.

Second, it seems really strange they would flip to see which side would move first, then flip again to determine offense/defense. In conventional chess white always moves first, and letting a coin determine your strategy seems reckless.

Third, there's nothing in Henry's demeanor that suggests he has any particular feeling for Guillaume as anything other than a worthy opponent. The idea that he was shipping Guillaume off just to raise a fresh army and come back seemed out of character, or at the least extremely unexpected. Perhaps a little more characterization showing Henry not liking the king, but following orders would have helped.
 

coz1

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We are good month into the quest of getting feedback and I am the first to keep up the quest. ;) However it is time to release the names of our writAARs so they can respond to their feedback. I hate to hold it so long as I know how hard it is to hold back from responding. I've written for this before. :D Here are your authors:


#1 - Peter Ebbeson

#2 - DensleyBlair

#3 - Mithfir

#4 - BigBadBob

And thank you so much to each of you for putting your work out there!


EUIV and summer, real life and anything else...there are so many reasons to not notice the GtA. To all that do, Thank You!!!

WritAARs...have at it. :D
 

Rensslaer

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Glad there was some good feedback. I apologize that I wasn't able to read or review this time around.

Hopefully I can go back and catch up later. Onward to another round! :)

Renss
 

Wyvern

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Two out of four authors I know, and I didn't guess either of them. Oh well. I wasn't really familiar with the MoBA genre Peter, but what it reminded me of, was Simon Hawke's first Time Commando's short story (The Ivanhoe Gambit), where the soldiers are sitting in the departure lounge, before being whisked back to fight the wars of the future, in the past, with referees keeping score of which team won. I was almost sure whoever wrote it was influenced by that story.
 

DensleyBlair

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Author Two

Author two took a very ambitious approach, trying to pull off conversational wit and put-downs via character conversations. Something that is extremely hard to do, and didn't really pull it off for me. It was well enough crafted, but I think the story/plot was just too slow and could have done with skipping the first half and starting shortly before duel. You want something to stir the audience immediately in a short story, and I didn't get that with this one. I also felt the Comte was jarred out of character when he tells the Marquis to piss off. For a disdainful aristocrat, that dismissal just didn't fit his character. it should have been something more eloquent and biting.

For me, the highlight of the story was the duel itself, which was well told. I still applaud the author for taking on such an audacious challenge, even if I felt he didn't quite pull it off, and it was a little bit too long.

You make fair points – even as I was writing, I was conscious of how long things were getting, but I felt that I should keep the build up scenes in to really set the scene. I tend to notice that a common theme when writing is that I spend far to long on excessive build up and description.

As for your comments with regards to the Comte being jarred out of character, that was actually the intention. You weren't meant to like his character at all, and the piss off acted as a window into his real personality. He is cynical and savvy, and knows how to keep up appearances, therefore acting disdainful and such in 'polite' company. I actually thought that that particular piece of dialogue was a good example of his true character, but it seems that's not how it came off – which I guess is what's important.

Author two
Well, it sure was a game. But I somewhat kept looking for a deeper meaning, and so felt a bit disappointed when there was none. I did feel the sneers had a mix of juvenile added to them, which seemed a bit... unfitting. Wyvern touched on a specific one, but to me his example felt fitting to the whole. Which, I think, is a slight miscalculation.

I also took rather long to grasp just how the Comté lost the duel. I am still a bit unsure.

I'll direct you to my reply to Wyvern above to give some of my thoughts behind some of the insults. As for being juvenile – again, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I'd go as far as saying that the whole thing is somewhat juvenile. That said, if petty bickering (which is what my story is essentially about) isn't juvenile, I'm not sure what it is. ;)

There seems to have been some confusion as to duel scene, so I'll clear that up here. As the comte saw the abbé failing to keep up, he got complacent and began to picture his victory in his mind's eye, becoming too distracted by this and not actually focusing on the spar at hand. Eventually, consumed by his thoughts, he trips and falls, landing heavily and injuring his shoulder and his ankle. Seeing as no blood had been drawn on the abbé's part, he had to make a little prick in the defeated comte's finger, only to realise the stupidity of it all and be the better man.

A little far fetched, perhaps, I admit.

Author Two.

The writing style in this one was much more to my taste and understanding, and the dialogue was quite good. The duel was handled well, and you managed to convey the action admirably through the perspective of de Fremont as unreliable narrator. (Avernite makes a good point that this might make things a bit confusing, though.) However, the story never really quite clicked with me. To me it reads like a right proper pastiche of late Bourbon France, with stylistic trappings and characterisations that felt like they would be at home in a Monty Python sketch or a Blackadder episode, but which we were ostensibly supposed to be taking seriously. (Or, at least, as seriously as the characters themselves were.) The references to Rousseau and Voltaire didn't much help matters.

It did take awhile to get into, from my end, and it wasn't particularly conducive to my suspension of disbelief. Again, though, in spite of all of the aforesaid I did enjoy the descriptive style.

And a pastiche is really what you were reading. The story is based upon the French film Ridicule, in which, to advance one's standing in court, one must show his keen wit – especially in front of the king. I was surprised you didn't guess the author just from your comparison to Blackadder! ;)

Thanks for your compliments as well.

Author2: Drama! Action! Poetry in Motion! A Game of Wit!

I liked this one despite its length. I do wish that the author had worked more on the witticisms that drive the story. They were good enough for the job, but they lacked that sting that makes a great put-down such an awe-inspiring thing to hear and to watch being delivered. A bitter wit is something that is so terribly difficult to write, so I must applaud the attempt even as I wished for more.

Like Wyvern, I think this story would have been significantly improved by skipping the introduction altogether and going straight to the court scene. Keep it short, keep it snappy, and keep it to the point.

Overall, I am satisfied with the writing and editing and I saw little to comment on, save, perhaps, this:

In the introduction we are told that the Comte is ”eyeing the curvature of a young woman's breast under the silk covers ”.

Now, while I'd be the first to agree that this is a splendid activity that definitely beats answering the mail, I cannot help but think that unless the author intended the reader to draw the conclusion that the Comte was a born mathematician, something that the author does not build on in the following paragraphs, the sentence could stand some editing. :p

This one is tied with Author1's story for my favourite entry this time.

I think I must've been reading to much J.G. Ballard! ;) I hadn't really prepared for the event in which the reader took the curvature of [her] breast as a mathematical sentence, I must admit. I'm still not convinced that is the first conclusion I'd draw having read it, but, hey, take from it what you will. ;)

And with regards to the put-downs and their effectiveness (or lack thereof,) I usually only write such things for my comedic works, which wasn't really the style I was going for, which I think probably hindered my ability to craft some truly worthy pieces of wit. That, and the fact that writing four hours before having to leave for the airport isn't always the most conducive to quality literature. ;)

Thanks for your kind words, as well. They're much appreciated.

Author 2: I'm not sure if that was your intent, but you made me hate the comte very deeply, and very early on with his arrogance. Your use of dialogue was excellent, though I wonder if it went a tad long.

I enjoyed your description of the duel, but honestly I'm not sure WHAT happened to the comte: You have his hand rushing to his should(er)?, then a deep pain in his ankle. Obviously the abbe didn't stab him or pricking his finger wouldn't have been necessary. Also, the abbe's letting him stay after going to the trouble of negotiating terms read a little false.

That was exactly the intention, so I'm glad you thought as much of the comte. I'll also direct you to my explanation of the duel above if you are still confused. And, yes, that should've been shoulder. Going back and reading the piece again makes me realise just how many typos go under the radar when I'm using my iPad!

Oh, and I've embarked on reading Resurrection, by the way. I must say, it's one of the most gripping and well-crafted pieces I've read on these boards! ;)



Thanks all for taking the time to review and critique during your summers. I know how much all the authAARs who take part appreciate it, and your words are invaluable.

Huzzah! Damn! Wrong AAR! ;)
 

Peter Ebbesen

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I think I must've been reading to much J.G. Ballard! ;) I hadn't really prepared for the event in which the reader took the curvature of [her] breast as a mathematical sentence, I must admit. I'm still not convinced that is the first conclusion I'd draw having read it, but, hey, take from it what you will. ;)
Now, that's just unreasonable.

If you had meant the more common appreciation for the female breast known even to uneducated rubes, he'd surely have appreciated the curve of her breast, not the curvature. :p
 

Mithfir

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I don't think I should have submitted that piece for "Guess the author", since it's more of a draft I wrote a while ago instead of a short story. I apologize, it was not a good idea to bring an unfinished draft of a larger story as a short story entry.

@Wyvern

Reading back the first letter, it really is a weak written piece compared to the rest. I wanted to express a sense of urgency, which is why it's written this way. Still, no excuse for a badly written paragraph.

@Avernite

That's my fault that the story doesn't quite flow. Perhaps it would flow better inside a book instead of a short story... I once read a book that used this idea of separating chapters with characters explaining their point of view (I'm not talking about a Song of Fire and Ice, it's another book), which each subsequent chapter adding new elements, until the very last where the big reveal is unleashed on the reader. Perhaps the subject itself wasn't interesting enough as well.

@Revan86

Noted. For short stories, I'll stick to the concise stuff and go straight to the point. It was my mistake from the start. As for Tsaleigha, it's part of her character development. You see, the way I created her, she was meant to be an insufferable woman who gradually mellows over time. She's married to a lowborn gardener (that she genuinely loves), will give birth to 3 ordinary 3 daughters, before having a 4th child (a son), who will be the magical prodigy of the family. She'll deny it at first, and give birth to another daughter, before finally accepting her son as her heir. Anyway, that's what I thought about her so far. She does have a gentler side, I just didn't get to portray it in this piece.

@Peter Ebbesen

Noted. English is my 2nd language and I can sometimes make obvious mistakes for the native speaker. The length was my mistake from the start; I wanted to post something I've written and receive criticism instead of posting a short story.

@CatKnight

I wanted each letter to feel like it was written by different people, which is why there are some differences between them. If I ever post another story here, I'll be sure to be concise.
 

coz1

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We've been a few weeks now to allow for feedback to the feedback and perhaps it's time for another round? With EUIV now out, I'm hoping we can still grab a few eyes. Thus, with those players in mind I give a fairly game specific topic...the forced retreat. If you've played EUIV, you know of which I speak. The dreaded blue lined march back to some place far away from the front line. We've had "retreat" as a topic before, but this is a harsher situation perhaps. I'll say no more. It's up to you to spin that into a short tale. :D

For those interested, first 4 to PM get a slot as always. Deadline for those accepted would be Sept. 20. Who's up for it?
 

Peter Ebbesen

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The correct term for the dreaded blue line is "shattered retreat".
 

coz1

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coz1

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Couple of days later...2 slots still open. Again, the topic is - A Shattered Retreat. Who else wants in?
 

coz1

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We have three great tales for this round. Not a full deck, but perhaps less to allow more time spent on each one. ;) That we keep getting eyes is the important thing. To recall, the topic is...A Shattered Retreat.

Allow me time enough to post each one and then comment away. Remember to keep it civilized but feel free to point out what worked and what did not. And as always, I hope both writAAR and readAAR alike enjoy! :)
 

coz1

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Author #1


"But Sheriff!" Wolter protested. "She salted us!" At least I think it was Wolter. It was hard to think through the shooting pain in my head.

"Enough!" Sheriff's voice I recognized. He had a name of course, but no one used it anymore. Sheriff liked his title, he liked his authority, and forgetting about either could earn you a beating. "Tam, you're the only sensible one here. You tell me what happened."

I forced my eyes open: The common room at Sheriff's house in the middle of the night. Wooden walls, wood table, stone fireplace. Was that a dog head on the mantle?

"Tam!"

No, a wolf's head. I groaned and rubbed my head. Rough hands yanked mine away and I smelled Sheriff's rancid breath as he glared at the wound. "Naught but a cut. Man up, Tam, and tell me what the devil happened!"

"But I told you, Sheriff."

"Quiet, Wolter!"

I blinked several times against the pain. "It was naught, sheriff. It just got out of hand."

"She salted us!"

I looked up at Wolter: A large man, balding at 20, with just enough of the gift to cause trouble. "You did set her cat on fire."

"It was an accident! I put it out!"

I groaned and rubbed my head.

"And it was a black cat! She's a witch, I tell you!"

"Enough!" Sheriff growled. "You two woke me up, pounding on my door, so it wasn't 'naught.' Tell me what I want to know, or out comes the stick."

Sigh. "Alright. We were in the taproom."

"I gathered that since Kit's involved." Kit, the proprietor and waitress. On paper her husband ran the show, but he was a diffident lout who found a quiet joy in serving drinks and staying out of everyone's way. Black hair, blue eyes, slim, temper like an angry bear.

"Well, it was me and Wolter here and Red, Jamie's son."

"You didn't tell me about Red," Sheriff rounded on Wolter.

"He ran when she salted us! He's probably still running!"

Sheriff hmfed, a sound of ultimate distrust, disbelief and a shade of contempt. He folded his arms. "Continue."

"We'd been drinking a course..."

"Good beer tonight!"

"...and had some stew...."

"Too much pepper. Not enough..."

"Wolter, please!" I lowered my head. I'm not sure what happened next, but I heard him yelp, then stumble and land on his ass. I looked up to find Sheriff glaring at him, fists clenched, as Wolter cowered. Finally he turned his attention back to me. "Beer. Stew," he snapped. "What else?"

"A bard. A singer. The foreigner." Anywhere beyond three leagues was 'foreign.' "He was singing the Lay of King Reginald, when..."

"He sings off-key." Sheriff raised the back of his hand and Wolter cowered again. "Sorry."

"When Wolter tells me that Kit's flirting with the bard."

"Was she?"

"I don't know Sheriff. You know how I am with women. Anyway, I think she was just trying to get a free song out of him."

"Not true!" Wolter protested, then cringed.

This time Sheriff relented. "Well, how was it then?"

"She was practically in his lap, the slut! And her poor husband looking on."

"Did he seem offended?"

"Eh?"

"Lukas. Was he offended?" Sheriff demanded.

"No, but you know how he is. Never takes anything personal. Poor man."

"You weren't sorry for him earlier," I retorted.

"I was so!" Wolter protested. "I was..."

"Is that why you said, 'I have to get me some of that ass?'"

Sheriff frowned.

"And she heard you?" I pressed.

Sheriff closed his eyes.

"And she was all cozy! She liked it!"

"She poured a pitcher of beer on your lap!"

"She said she was sorry!"

"Then why was she laughing?"

"ENOUGH!" Sheriff screamed. "Is that when she hit you?"

"No!" Wolter said. "It wasn't until..."

"The cat," I supplied.

"That was an accident!"

"Tell me about the cat," Sheriff said. Wolter opened his mouth, then shut it when he glared.

"Well, Wolter decides he's going to impress Kit and make some flowers out of thin air"

"You can do that?" Sheriff sounded impressed.

"Ye..!"

"No, he can't. He miscast and hurled a jet of flame at the cat."

"And you notice he didn't do nothing but hiss? Tis unnatural!"

"That's because she bought him a charm the last time you did that. That little green gem in the collar?"

"So she shrieks like a banshee, grabs a skillet and starts chasing us around! The little bugger wasn't even hurt!"

"The curtains are a loss though," I commented.

"Yeah."

"So let me get this straight," Sheriff rumbled. "You comment on her ass, she dumps ale on you, you nearly torch her cat, instead get her curtains, and she chases you with a skillet."

"Right!" Wolter said.

"And hit you with it I presume?"

"Well, she missed me. Tam here got it good though."

I rubbed my head.

"So go over and arrest her!" Wolter insisted. "She salted us!"

Sheriff strode past me and opened his door, letting in the cold night air. "Get out."

"But Sheri..."

"Get out! Both of you!"

I stumbled towards the door with his angry tirade in my ears: "Wake me up in the middle of the night, will you? Gods damn you both, why I should...."

"SHERIFF!!" High pitched, relentless, the three of us turned to find Kit storming towards us, skillet in her hand. "Sheriff, arrest these men! They tried to kill Mr. Whiskers!"

The two of us looked at each other and ran.
 

coz1

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Author #2


23rd July

Chaos reigned. Any semblance of the plan of attack had entirely dissolved; the ranks had melted away under the French fire and not even the officers were attempting to restore (order). Men fled in all directions, melting into the countryside. The air was filled with panicked shouts and the sporadic crack of musket fire.

Ifollowed the greatest bulk of men, who were heading due south towards the forest. Rumours of French cavalry had been barked throughout the retreat, and the looming trees offered some protection against our unseen pursuers.

The morning had passed as if in a dream. With adrenaline ringing in our heads, we felt the irresistible pull of fate. Looking back, it was as if all my actions were pre-determined, I had no control. It had not taken long for the youthful illusions of battle to be shattered. We advanced towards the formidable looking French, who seemed not to react as thousands of my countrymen approached them with bloody intent, screaming our challenge. The booming of the cannon sounded somehow unreal, distant, unimportant. This delusion was soon incisively shattered when the first ball smashed into the men in front of us, severing limbs and spilling guts. The agonising screams of the wounded and dying instantly stilled our enthusiasm, and following the lead of the Italian mercenaries we increased our speed to close the distance.

As we approached within 100 yards of the enemies front line we could read the features on the faces of the French. These were just men, and soon our pikes would avenge those lost in the advance. For a fleeting moment romantic dreams of battle returned to my head as I imaged the looming combat. I began to seek the eyes of a Frenchmen, wordlessly signalling my private challenge. However, we never did close.

Arquibusiers, arranged in two lines, poured lethal fire into our men, tearing those at the front and littering the field with their bodies. Thick, choking smoke, produced by the French fire, blocked our vision and clouded our senses. All sense of an orderly attack was lost as we were buried under the noise, smell and missiles of the enemy.

I struck widely at the shadows of men as they flashed past me, never sure if I connected or not. Friend and foe alike were plucked off, randomly by the incessant fire which poured into the cauldron.

Seeing Rodrigo off to my right in a moment of clarity, I desperately clambered towards him, but before I could approach three French knights surrounded him. I could do little but watch as they unceremoniously cut him down, raining their blows on him from all angles. Time seemed to slow as I watched each mortal blow connect and spin his body, and still they continued to shred him. The brutality of it awakened a rage within me, the rest of the battle faded from my vision and time seemed to perceptively return to it's normal speed of passge, and I lunged forward intended to throw myself upon them. Before I could reach them a body crashed into me, throwing me to the ground, and everything went black.

Knocked senseless by the impact, when I came too I was being dragged back by an officer. The atmosphere was different now, the chaos replaced by panic as we withdrew. IT felt like a different day, a different life even, but I later learned that only seconds had passed between the accidental blow which felled me, and my rescue.

* * * * *

26th to 28th July

This was not how it was supposed to have gone. Rodrigo and I had signed up in the spring as the war against France was announced. Restless and struggling with small village life in Badejoz, they had joined up when the King's representatives visited to recruit from the regions villages. A life of adventure was promised, travelling north and seeing the vast lands of Spain, thwarting the French ambitions and returning as heros. Or not returning at all? The army offered a gateway to a new life, free of the monotonous routine of village life.

From the beginning, life in the army fell short of our expectations. There was little training, and the recruiting officers did not even have a uniform for us to march off triumphantly in. Instead, we were hurried to a makeshift shelter, already filled with volunteers from neighbouring villages. The other volunteers were not as we had expected; rather than young men excited about the adventure ahead of them, the shelter was packed with an unsavoury looking bunch, the type you would avoid if approached on the road.

Our first few weeks were spent marching, and it was not until we had arrived in the northern region of Navarre that we finally received uniform, muskets and pikes. The light chain mail and the King's colours transformed us. We felt ten feet tall, and launched ourselves into the training.

After just a few short days of training, where we were shown the basics of formations and taught to recognise the flags and the commands of the battlefield, we once again hit the road, heads once again filled with grand schemes of battle and glory. The French were said to have crossed the border not far from here, now we marched to battle.

Those dreams are unrealised, lying dead and mutilated with too many of our number on the fields of Navarre. Death was to be expected, but none of us were prepared for the modern nature of combat. I had duelled, and expected something more personal, pairing off against opponents in the field, and moving on triumphantly once they were dispatched. I had duelled before, although never killed a man, and I had expected that combat would be similar, just on a grander scale and for a bigger cause.

Instead, we marched as pawns of the nobility, and we were killed in our hundreds without ever casting our eyes on those responsible for our fate. How can a man use his skills in such conditions? Those who survive owe little to experience, dexterity or their swordsmanship. No, blind luck determined who will survive to place his bets another day, and who will fall.

Did even our officers find glory in such a scheme? Certainly not any on our side, but could even the French? The battle had not been settled by their greater skill, their fervour or even their numbers. Were there any individual victories to be had?

Certainly, the French had won, and yet had we stood our ground and met their advance with fire, would the result not have reversed? The futility of each individuals life depressed me, this was not battle.

* * * * *

1st to 3rd August

We continue to withdraw at speed, although the officers have succeeded in bringing the men into line, and desertions have become ever more rare. The threat of the French cavalry keeps the men together, and we now play a game of cat and mouse with our pursuers. We set the pace, covering as much ground as we can, before trying to snatch what respite is possible before they close the gap. We seem to be keeping ahead of them, but the French themselves seem to be more cautious. Immediately after the battle, we were raided almost continuously, and I personally skirmished on no fewer than five occasions in the first few hours of our retreat. Now, the sightings are far fewer, and I suspect this will remain the case as we move deeper into Spain.

There has been a marked difference in tone from the officers as well. Initially it appeared to be almost every man for himself, and there was no hierarchy visible at all. Now, each company has its officer again, and they constantly drone on about the causing of the war, why King Carlos's casus belli is just, and how we will avenge ourselves. There are one of two belligerent souls who seem ready to throw themselves back into the arms of the French, but the vast majority of us wish they would shut up. Talk of politics and glory is so far removed from what we all experienced. We can only hope that our general has at least learned something from the engagement, although I fear that we will soon find ourselves trying to re-fight the same battle, with predictable results.

* * * * *

7th August

Today, we run no more. This is home, the hills, forests and streams of my childhood in Badejoz intimately familiar to me, and I'll be damned if I'll be chase through by the cursed French. They have doggedly followed us, no doubt intent to rout those of us who survived at Paplona like they did for Rodrigo. I am glad they are here, and I know the sentiment is shared by the others. Fresh men and ammunitions have slowly begun to arrive now that we do not flee, while the French have taken no rest since the battle some three weeks ago, and are deep in our land.

We were naive, inexperienced and poorly led in the Navarre, and looking back it is a miracle any of us escaped the débâcle. Now, we are a changed force. Hardened by the brutality of the battle, the small skirmishes with French dragoons as we fled, and the hardship of the unrelenting pace of the march, now we are ready.

Let them come! Now they can approach our line while we pour our fire forth. My hand itches, I am ready to strike the blow. This time, I will not be as a child, awed by the aura of battle. Our naïvety was blown to pieces on the fiends of the Navarre, torn from our bodies and mind under the French cannon and mace.

And so we stand. Not one more step back will be taken. The French will break against us! The men all fidget as we form our lines; blades are sharpened and (checked), chain mail is flattened and adjusted, newly arrived arquebus are set in the ground. I grasp my pike, and my knuckles are far from the only ones pinched white by the tension.

I will avenge Rodrigo. Let them come!
 

coz1

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Author #3


Eddie ran home. He ran hard and fast because it was the worst fight he had ever lost.

It was that damned Billy! He was bigger and faster and seemed to have too many friends. At least he did today. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. He’d talked with Harry and Pete. They were supposed to be there. In fact, it was Harry that suggested it!

“You can take him, Ed! He’s sick today.”

“Sick?”

“Yeah, Kat’s been sweet on him and he’s love sick!”

Harry laughed with an outrageous swooning move, but Eddie did not. Girls weren’t interesting. Just a pain. And who cared if Kat liked Billy anyway?

But when Harry pushed him into Billy on the practice field and he had to respond, he wasn’t ready. Dirtied in the mud, he tried to stand up but the bastard pushed him down again. It was enough! Standing up again with his firsts cocked, Eddie challenged the bully.

“That’s it! Not again!”

“What?” Billy mocked to his friends. “Are you going to fight me?”

“Yes!”

It was said in a moment Eddie did not plan. None of it was. But he stepped forward and said it again.

“Yes.”

And it was that moment that doubt set in.

He looked around and saw everyone starring at him. He even saw Kat looking. Over by the stables, but she was still surely watching. And where was Harry now? Run off.

Billy stood strong and shrugged his shoulders. “Fine. When and where, ya twat?”

Eddie felt his face go flush, but he tried to answer as best he could, “Church.”

“What, afters? Billy asked laughing.

“Yeah!”

And with that, he was off. Or, he tried.

Billy came up after him and smacked him hard across the head with his hand, “What’s wrong with right now?”

He fell to the ground and felt his head go numb. He tried to turn but his body hurt all over. Eddie finally squared his eyes enough to see his nemesis standing over him and ready to dish out more abuse. He was kicked and spit upon. Billy punched him again in the face to make his point.

“Better stay out of the yard for a while, ya stupid little boy!”

Billy even used words to hurt him.

Eddie began to cry. It was the worst thing that could have happened but still, he could not stop. He knew it too. They would all think he was craven and no brave boy. Certainly not Kat.

He tried to crawl away and Billy walked after for a piece. “Coward!”

And that was even worse.

Eddie got to his feet and ran. He did not look back and did not care what anyone had to say about him. He simply ran. It took him some time to finally make it back to the keep, mostly because he’d spent some time in the woods stewing over his wounds. But even when he finally showed himself to his mother, he could not help but break down again into tears.

“My goodness!” she declared as she bent to take in her child. Eddie tried to stop the flow, but he still let them out.

“What is wrong with you, child?” his mother asked finally after inspecting the boy.

He started to ease his sobs and told her and she held him even tighter. “Do not worry about those boys, my son. You will certainly beat them the next time they come for you.”

Eddie looked to his mother with questioning eyes.

“You are the son of a Prince. You are too strong for them that may wish to harm you. They take advantage now, but when you have grown big, they will think twice about doing so!”

“Do you promise?” Eddie asked, truly wanting the answer.

“Do not doubt it, my son. Now dry your eyes and go tell your father. He will want to know of this.”

Eddie blushed again but his mother gave him a fierce look. He knew what that meant and moved perhaps too slowly through the keep to his father’s chamber. He stood for a slight moment before pushing the door open.

“Father?”

The man stood and walked to the door, grabbing the boy on the head with a loving touch. While it hurt after the day’s action, he did not let it show. It was nice to feel his father’s love. He followed his father’s hand as he walked backed to his desk.

“Sit, my son. How does the day take you?”

Eddie thought too long on the question and was late in his answer. His father was there before him.

“Your mother has told me. You’ve been in a fight.”

One weight was lifted off his chest before another landed with extreme pressure.

“I…I…I lost.”

His father looked deep into his eyes and raised his eyebrows.

Without thinking Eddie blurted out, “I thought I could take him!”

Eddie’s father stood and walked around behind his son, taking each shoulder in hand. He gave a strong squeeze, smiled and kissed the boy on the head. Leaning down he whispered,

“Get stronger.”

His father turned and walked out of the room leaving Eddie to figure out what that meant. Hearing them both, mother and father, he would still be embarrassed by the entire court. Or the childhood court, this was. He would have to answer for it when next he saw them again…

…and then Eddie finally understood.
 

Director

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Author #1 - most excellent! It puts me in mind of a good comedy routine and is very well done. I would suggest only that the slow build of tempo that winds the mainspring of the humorous action is broken by the ending. Why not have Kit burst in while the routine is at full speed, take the action to turbo and then for a punchline have the Sheriff throwing all three of them out? (Or Kit chasing him out with the other two...) Study the dynamics of "Who's on First" or Star Trek's 'Trouble with Tribbles' for pacing. I can't write that well but I know what to steal - AHEM! - where to turn for inspiration, I meant, of course.

Well done - genuinely funny!

Author #2 - details, details, details! You write well and you have a good story to tell. I suspect you write without using a spellchecker as there are a number of small typos here. Try writing in a word processor of some sort. I say this not to be unkind but to encourage you because I did enjoy the tale... my advice here is to avoid the little things that might bring the reader out of the story. My own routine is to write and put aside, re-read and edit, copy to the forum and then read and edit again. Also reading it out-loud helps me... try it!

I'd like to hear how our Spanish heroes make out.

Author #3 - We have a Kit and a Kat. Anyone for Snickers? Other than the bratty villain of this piece, who snickers at our hero, that is. One suspects that Prince Eddie will hold a lifelong grudge against Billy the Bully and maybe against Harry the False Friend too - and I believe that they will repent in detail and at great length before Eddie is done. A nice little parallel here of false allies pushing you rashly into action before you are ready... and a good comparison of court politics with the playground sort, though I would have liked to see that drawn out at greater length and possibly made his father's lesson-learned.

Uneasy is the weakling... but often when they finally strike they do so with finality.

Nice job with an unusual take on the subject!
 

coz1

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Thank you so much for the response, Director. I hope that others will give our writAARs some feedback. Been a week and change and I am sure they are wishing for the very same. :)
 

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  • Sengoku
  • Semper Fi
  • March of the Eagles
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
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  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
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  • Hearts of Iron IV: Expansion Pass
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
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  • 500k Club
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  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
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  • Europa Universalis III
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  • Cities: Skylines
I will of course be offering up my feedback when I have a good period of time to devote to the subject – probably once I've finished my AARlander article.
 

Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
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Mar 3, 2001
16.681
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  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
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  • Europa Universalis III
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Age of Wonders III
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Ah, I missed that round - reserving this spot for criticism. ETA: This Weekend.
 

aniuby

Major
17 Badges
Jan 24, 2012
506
0
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Hello all!

After a two-month absence from Paradox forums, due to going on an immersion trip to Japan and then party conference season, I think the time is right for me to make a return, and what better place than Guess the Author? Admittedly this is due to practical reasons - reading short stories is certainly a lot easier to do and practical criticism certainly a more generally applicable and retainable skill. Compared with, say, catching up on all those AARs I was previously following, or for that matter rereading my own in order to get restarted, or worst of all relearning the mechanics of Paradox games... I'll get around to that, but this isn't the place to discuss the intricacies of it.

Since this is the last post of the page and will soon be sent plummeting into the rank, forgettable depths of forum history once someone makes a new post, please allow me to first offer more general comments about the submissions for most recent round of GtA, as well as a little about the last one which I unfortunately missed due to aforementioned commitments. I'll put my comments proper about each of this round's submissions in a new post.



The first point I'd like to raise is the rather unusual choice of topic for this round - the "forced retreat" (or more accurately the "shattered retreat"). Since coz1 already brought up the piece of forum history that "retreat" had previously been used as a topic, his new choice therefore places a great amount of importance on the adjective describing the retreat. I'm really pleased at how, though the title is an obvious nod to EUIV, all the authors differed in the setting of their story, much like the previous round, "Rivalry", where coz1 suggested the setting of Crusader Kings.

However, while opinions on the matter will differ, I felt that none of the authors really emphasised or highlighted the adjective characterising the retreat, whether "shattered" or "forced" (and both adjectives in themselves meaning different things). Certainly, all authors wrote their story about the theme of "retreat", but I felt none of them conveyed the sense of devastation, despondence, or pure helplessness which I felt the adjective characterised. I'll say it now to avoid repeating this point in the criticism of each author's work - Author #1 was too farcical and did not bring out the gravity of the situation, Author #2 was too keen to emphasise the fightback, and while Author #3 came closest it was in a sort of microcosmic sense - the schoolyard bullies - which while applicable in that situation, made it more difficult for the audience to sympathise with the seriousness of the situation. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a "problem" since all the authors wrote well in their preferred style. After all, this is merely an exercise in creativity, not a contest or examination, but all the same I wish to highlight this point as something to bear in mind when you are asked to write according to a theme. Every word in the theme is important, and you must serve to bring this out across the length of your story or essay.

I admit being a little disappointed that this round was unable to muster a full roster of four authors, especially since the previous round filled up before the night was even over. However, in my opinion this is due not to the "summer vacation" (didn't the last round take place during summer, too?) but rather due to the rather topical theme, which is pretty clearly inspired by EUIV, and I believe this might put off people who haven't played, don't own, or aren't even interested in EUIV. I speak from personal sentiment here - I would have liked to sign up as I'd returned from my trip by then, but I haven't even touched EUIV despite pre-ordering it and frankly it isn't one of my priorities right now (compared to sorting out my life ... and beating TH14), so I won't deny the topic discouraged me. Of course, this explanation could just be an excuse for my lack of creativity or commitment, but I'd merely like to offer the feedback that in the future, the "theme" of Guess the Author ought not to be so directly pulled from one of the Big Four franchises, or in this case from a specific game, so as to avoid alienating potential writers (or readers!) who care little for that particular game or game series.



I also wish to apologise for being unable to offer commentary for last round, as I was too busy with planning (and actually being on) my trip. It's in the past now, but I'd just like to offer some general comments. While the submissions straddled the theme to represent competition in both a physical sense as well as a psychological one, I was intrigued by how this theme brought out fantasy/sci-fi contributions, which I have not seen since coz1 restarted GtA earlier this year (with "Rain"). I definitely don't want to discourage that, but I admit being caught unaware by it, since this forum's writers tend to stick to (alt)history-book/speculative fiction styles. Let's just say it gave me food for thought - I do wish fantasy/sci-fi AARs on this forum received a little more prominence and attention, rather than dubious glances of uncertainty from more serious history fans. Also, Peter Ebbesen totally broadcasted his authorship of the first piece once he mentioned the DotA genre - I thought it more of like Reboot-style 'sprites' in a computer.

Also, a second point I'd like to bring across is one I raised before, the length of the submission. coz1 did say anything is fine since it's a form of creative expression, but I felt the last round of GtA stretched this to the lengths of tolerance. Author #2 and especially #3's works were way too long, especially when contrasted to the submissions of #1 and #4. This meant that length become the primary criticism, in the form of lots of "TL : DR" comments, and what I felt as someone who writes lengthy stuff (and has been lambasted for it) is that complaints about length draw attention away from more specific criticism which would be more helpful to the author's writing style, since practical criticism is of course the objective of this entire exercise. In my opinion, the failure to keep the length of one's submission to the standards expected of the audience cannot be the author's fault if such standards are not provided in the first place. I therefore do sincerely believe that it would be helpful for those organising GtA to explicitly state a limit of sorts to prevent these complaints about length and keep the comments directly relevant to the content of the authors' works.



To avoid accusations of hypocrisy ... rather, I already have blathered enough Polonius-like, so to cut it short for those who skipped to the end, I made an observation about the specific nature of this round's theme, and the ability of the current submissions to keep to that theme, and also offered some thoughts about the theme and length of submissions for last round, which I unfortunately missed. Specific comments about each individual submission this round will begin from my next post, and I shall start with Author #3. Please look forward to it!

(Or don't, if you have a severe case of verbophobia and were glad thinking this terrible scourge of the English language was gone from PI forums forever!)