28. Sheba vs. Jason Brooks (The Fisherman) and Ada Brooks
COMMENTS FOR SHEBA
BagnaTheSupervillain: Sheba's motives and history were very well-displayed here, and she continues to be a very interesting character. With all the focus on Sheba's actions and motivation, Jason and Ada didn't come across nearly as effectively, with Jason's detective work and Ada's cheerful friendliness used to characterize them in a very broad and general way that didn't make them seem terribly compelling. The plot of the entry felt mostly unfocused and lacking in consequence, though now that Sheba's character has been established more fully and she's had her first impressions of some of the humans in Hades, the entry left me interested to see how the story unfolds for Sheba.
Lithicbee: Before submitting a story, I recommend you read it with an eye to repetitive phrases and run-on sentences, both of which can be distracting to a reader. Some examples of needless repetition include: jumped in fright/turned in fright, and suddenly/suddenly in quick succession. Also watch out for slipping between past and present tense.
I liked how your story started out with a memory. It had me reading forward to figure out what was happening, and it hooks me for future entries, because I want to know exactly what happened with Kiarma. I liked that you don't back down from how angry and cruel Sheba can be: she even wants to kill a piece of paper that brushes against her.
Regarding the section on the tape recorder: this seemed like a bunch of in jokes to me. I didn't get them and it made me want to skim through it all. If you're writing for a specific audience that will get the joke, that's fine. But if you don't want to turn off readers outside of that circle, be careful with humor they might not get.
Finally, I felt you handled Sheba and her reactions well, but Jason's role was a bit light.
RobinRone: The characterization was fairly strong for both OCs and your chosen NPCs. I really appreciate the gradual shift in Sheba's perspective. It would have been very easy to have the acceptance of Jason and Ada somehow magically transform Sheba's view towards humans. I found your take on it much more true - lessons learned over a lifetime are not easily let go, no matter how strange the circumstances. I appreciated that there was some shift and challenge to this world view, but that it bent rather than broke. The weakness in this entry lies in a dependance on explanations. You seem very attached to the idea of providing the reader information, to the point that you over-explain everything. This makes parts of the entry dull and unnecessary, and also fills your prose with telling the audience things rather than showing the audience things. Trust the audience to put pieces of information together on their own, without having you expound upon the reasons. Particularly in the first part of this entry, after Sheba's dream but before she meets Jason and Ada, we are presented with lots and lots of information we already know from the audition, and could be demonstrated in behavior. Whenever you feel the need to explain something, ask yourself if there is a way to convey this with: 1) Body language, 2) "Voice" cues, 3) Unspoken dialog.
Example: A young man feels embarrassed and angry about something his brother is teasing him about. I could say "He felt embarrassment course through him, anger swiftly following it." This tells us exactly how he's feeling, but it doesn't show it - and as a result, we don't know HOW the character acts under those circumstances. How could we show this? 1) His cheeks flushed, eyes flickering downwards briefly before tension gathered in his shoulders, mouth twitching into a snarl as he glared silently. 2) "Shut up!" he snapped, his voice cracking slightly before dropping down in tenor to a seething hiss, "If you tell ANYBODY about what happened I will KILL you." 3) He hid his face behind his locker briefly before slamming it shut, face composed. "Right. So. I guess I'll be talking to mom about where her best sheets went we get home. Unless you can think of something better to talk about?" --> None of these examples TELL us how the boy feels, but each of them conveys not only the emotions, but a lot about his character. Try to apply the same techniques for Sheba, so you can explain less and convey more.
SaintKhan: This entry did a great job of delving into Sheba's past and defining her perspective, and then challenging that perspective with Jason and Ada's reactions to her. The opening with the dream memory did a great job of illustrating her predator/prey lifestyle, as well as adding in past issues for her to resolve. However, the section that followed, Sheba talking to herself, was much less effective. This section repeated a lot of information from the audition, and did so several times, without really adding any new emotional depth to Sheba herself. By having her talk to herself, she tells us what she is thinking rather than showing the audience through her actions. I think this entry would have been stronger if this scene had been cut, and Jason and Ada had just woken her with their approach. I've noted that you thought this entry did not explain enough and was confusing and unclear. I would reply that the entry had too much explanation, and that is what made it confusing at times. Explain a thing once, clearly, and your reader will understand it. Explain once poorly, and the reader is confused. Explain it three times clearly, and the reader is bored. Strive for the first result. Remember that a character does not need to speak for you to explain what is happening. Actions speak louder than words.
I'm also noticing receptive word choice that can be distracting to a reader. "Sheba simply gazed at her, shock simply mirrored on her face." Using 'simply' twice does not reenforce the statement, it just confuses the reader. Consider cutting the second 'simply' and the whole sentence becomes stronger.
Sheba is gaining a good emotional core. Continue this by exploring how she interacts with people around her like Jason and Ada, rather than having her tell herself, and by proxy, the audience, how she feels. Trust your reader. Sheba's angry reaction to Jason and Ada's tolerance speaks volumes about her confusion. Having her say it is not necessary.
Topios: The central point of your entry, Sheba's conviction that all humans hate her kind and the meeting with somebody who apparently doesn't, is well timed and seem to plant a seed of doubt in her mind that can lead to some god character development further on. I also appreciate her clear but simple goal – to get to the Pool of Memory so she can remember why she feels the way she does. But Ada and especially Jason could have used a stronger role in your narrative to really show their personality like you showed Sheba's. As it is they were boiled down to main traits and I'm certain you can do better. I would also recommend getting somebody to help you proofread your entry as there were a good deal of mistakes and repetitive sentences that slowed me down. Do that and your entry will read a lot more smoothly which will really bring out the work you've done to make Sheba an interesting character.
COMMENTS FOR JASON AND ADA
BagnaTheSupervillain: This entry did a very good job juggling a large number of characters in a relatively short entry and making every character interesting, important, and distinct. The meeting between Jason and Ada was very well done, and the connection between the two characters gives the story a very personal and affecting core, as well as giving Jason a good motivation to help Persephone. With all the setup this entry did and the effective use of numerous characters, it felt like there wasn't much reason for Jason and Ada to be hanging around Sheba. That and the fact that we don't see many of Sheba's various character traits come into play makes Sheba's presence in the entry feel a bit less relevant than it should be. However, what we see of Sheba is still written quite well, and the setup for her continued involvement in the story is appealing.
Lithicbee: One mistake writers can mistake is to tell the reader something is funny instead of letting them judge it for themselves. You didn't make this mistake. When Sheba started slapping herself, I laughed out loud before Ada did. And when Ada realized the situation was more serious than funny, I too felt guilty for laughing. Good job.
I liked that Jason's skill set gives him a good reason to be pulled into the search for the Ferryman, and his love for his sister gives him a strong motivation to agree to get involved in the search. Your version of Sheba is a bit understated compared to warewolves' version, but I like how you put her in position to a) look for Baldur, and b) look for the Ferryman, which gives her a legitimate reason to stick around with Jason and Ada.
The only part of your story that disappointed me was that there was no Part 3 where something beyond introduction and reunions happened. I was looking for a little more meat to the tale: a clue or lead, a red herring, an ambush just when Jason seemed to be on the right path. Anything to provide a bigger hook to the next segment.
RobinRone: My favorite part of this entry is the dynamics between Jason and Ada. The unexpected shock due to each of their expectations was fascinating and felt very real, much like seeing a family member after years of absence, but with those emotions intensified. You tapped into a very human experience and as a result it felt very true. I also cracked up repeatedly with your depiction of Loki. You danced the line between the fun and the fiendishness of a trickster character with great skill. I felt that your incorporation of your opponent's character was workmanlike, but lacking in creativity. Your strong characterization carries you a long way, but the storyline itself was essentially OCs #1 meets OC #2, they exchange information, the end. There was no evolution of character, no piece of a story arch that was moved forward. No theme to drive the events or give them a greater purpose. What made up for that lack here was interactions that were engaging, entertaining, and interesting, and that will continue to serve you well in the future, but it may be wise to increase the tools in your storytelling toolbox.
SaintKhan: Your portrayal of Loki is wonderful, and Minos is spot on. Ada and Jason's reunion had some real pathos, and I look forward to seeing how their relationship restarts.
If I have one complaint about this entry, it is that I couldn't really identify a theme. However, this read was so enjoyable, I'm not certain it needs one. Keep in mind that theme may become useful in the future, but if you keep delivering entries as strong as this one, you'll go far in this competition.
Topios: There were a lot of good points in your entry, but the awkward reunion between Ada and Jason and Loki stood out. The former was touching, the latter really bringing out the playful but dangerous nature of a god I for one am quite familiar with. All the interactions seemed solid when not great and really carried the entry even though there wasn't really an overall theme. Sheba did seem to have mellowed though, appearing more annoyed than resenting of all humanity. It works since she's presumably skilled in hiding her true feelings from years of practice, but seeing her personality explored a bit more and continuing it past them merely meeting would have given the story that extra nudge to make it really stand out.
29. Rin Yatsuhime vs. Ron Merrit and The Ghost
COMMENTS FOR RIN
BagnaTheSupervillain: Establishing a connection between Ron and Rin on the basis of their father-daughter relationships worked quite well, and I also liked seeing Rin's lack of social skills come up when she was meeting Ron. The dialogue occasionally felt a bit awkward to me due to the eagerness that Rin and Ron had to explain their pasts and emotional states to each other. This entry suffers mostly from being mostly lacking in story beyond Rin and Ron meeting and talking for a bit.
Lithicbee: As in the audition, Rin is a fairly one-dimensional character. She likes to fight and has a bad temper. I like that you playfully point this out in your story, but this doesn't change the fact and there does not seem to be any sort of arc forming in which she grows as a character. I did like that you found something for Rin and Ron to bond over: they are both dealing with messed-up father/daughter relationships, but as far as this entry goes, I found it lacking any sort of tension overall. It is entirely possible to have a dramatic story based solely around a conversation, but in this case, there does not seem to be anything at stake in the story. It really is just two people meeting, talking, and noticing some similarities in their lives. Kurt Vonnegut wrote: Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. I didn't get the sense of what Rin wanted. Is it to be the best fighter? Then the story could have been about her picking fights, consequences be damned. Or is she looking for something else now that she's dead? I couldn't tell from the story because she didn't seem to have any goal. If you continue on, give Rin something she wants, throw up some obstacles to her getting what she wants, and show us how she overcomes these (or fails). Therein lies a story.
Besides that, this entry could have benefited from some more eyes on it to catch spelling errors and the times when you slip into present tense rather than stick to the past tense.
RobinRone: I like that you work in the emotional core of both Ron and Rin's stories, and touch on the common ground between them: Fathers and daughters. That's a very strong idea to work with and I'm glad you explored it for both of them. However, you undermine your story with interactions that seem forced and often serve no purpose. In the beginning, the almost-fight that starts (and stops) so abruptly that I had trouble following it. The random perv that interrupts their conversation, gets punched, and runs away. Even how Ron opens up to Rin feels a little forced -- would you tell your most personal secret to a person that, multiple times, threatened to kill you, and responds to everything around her with violence? It's not something most people would do, and unless you have a very compelling, personality-driven reason, it's not something your characters should do either. Make sure to put yourself in your character's shoes and ask yourself how you would respond to these events. If you're making them do things for the sake of the plot (Character X needs to tell Character Y their backstory) then approach the scene from a different angle to find a way to demonstrate that point while still staying true to the people you're writing about.
SaintKhan: A lot of this entry was devoted to telling the reader things we already know. While Rin and Ron do not know each other's backstories, keep in mind that the reader has read them both first hand. This worked in your entry somewhat because you used the thematic similarities in their backstories to create an emotional bond between Rin and Ron. In fact, this was the most successful part of your entry. Expand on this skill. Just remember that you don't need to actually tell the reader the whole backstory again to have another character learn about them. For example, what other ways could Ron have learned Rin's backstory without her just telling him? Imagine that the flirt whom Rin punches was instead the samurai she was fighting when she died. They have a history that is immediately relevant, and Ron would have learned a lot about Rin, all without a single word of clumsy exposition. Alternately, Ron could have met one of the soldiers or scientists he killed on his final mission. Instead, we read a scene where each character flatly stated their backstory, which the reader already knows, and a no name flirt arrives to create mild conflict, and then be easily defeated. As said earlier, you were clearly able to draw a connection between Ron and Rin. In your next story, make that connection the focus, and skip anything that is repetitive or superfluous.
Topios: I enjoyed seeing Rin and Ron bond over their unusual family situation, this interaction hinted at a deeper personality than simply wanting to fight even if it's a well hidden quality. You found a good common point, but sadly there wasn't really any sense of opposition or progress since neither character seems to have anything they want to accomplish. If Rin for example wishes to prove herself as a fighter in this new place you can show this by letting her seek out confrontations and opposition either by being stopped or by her not being able to handle the situation she gets into. Think about what she –and Ron- wants and how you can make getting it hard for them and build your story around that. Also, I'd recommend a beta since you have some mistakes in your entry that slowed me down.
COMMENTS FOR RON AND THE GHOST
BagnaTheSupervillain: The plot struck a good balance of being a mostly self-contained story while still advancing the main storyline with Ron's new tools. The emphasis on father-daughter relationships with both Ron and Rin and the two gods made for a good thematic connection to the whole thing. Rin was used very effectively, and her unorthodox plan for cheering up Hel seemed fun and entirely in character for both of them. My biggest complaint is that for someone who's been in a lot of high stress situations in the past, Ron sometimes came across as a bit too easily shaken, and he doesn't have a very active role in the story.
Lithicbee: I liked the way you brought Ron and Rin into Minos' office at the same time, but after that I found their continued interactions a little forced. Ron seems like too focused a guy to keep letting himself get pulled into Rin's shenanigans. What's more, once Loki and Hel get involved, they become the stars of the show. Rin's personality--cocky, persistent--is shown off to good effect, but Ron seems to simply follow the characters and the story as they meander around. This entry seemed more concerned with humor than showing who Ron is and what he wants. If you continue on, I would focus more on Ron and The Ghost to showcase them and their story.
RobinRone: This entry was vastly entertaining to read, hitting humorous and dramatic beats alike. You developed your opponent's character well, bringing in a strong theme about the importance of fathers being there for their daughters, even if their children don't want them around. Even your conflict was chosen to suit, working with two gods that mirrored the problems Ron and Rin had in common, creating a strong framework. A downside is that there were several scenes that, while very strong on their own, didn't quite fit into that framework. On the upside, you don't necessarily have to remove these scenes. You'd just need to tweak them, to draw them back into that framework. Such as: (1) The scene with Minos at the beginning, while it set up plot, did not deal with that larger theme. However, it could have, had Ron brought his daughter into his justifications to Minos...something that Minos definitely would relate to having kidnapped and forcibly mutated hundreds of innocent people for the sake of saving his favorite son. This could have been used to emphasize the duty a father has to their children...and what it can drive them to do. (2) Ron's flash-back to Alice and the reveal she was pregnant. Again, this could have worked if the focus had been shifted away from the Three Rules of covert operations, and onto the fact that very soon, Ron was going to be a dad, and what that realization would mean to him.
SaintKhan: You did a great job not only connecting the father/daughter dynamic between Ron and Rin, but also mixing in Hel and Loki for added pathos. This really reenforced your theme, and also added wonderful tension-reliving humor to this entry. Characterization is a very strong part of this entry, and no one was short-changed. While Rin and Ron receive the lion's share, and rightly so, I must compliment your work with Loki, Hel, and Minos. You also used both media quite well. While this entry was quite long, I didn't really feel its length. However, this could become an issue in the future, so keep an eye on what is necessary in any given entry, and you may have to cut scenes that you love in order to better serve the story as a whole. Once again, that wasn't really a problem in this entry, but could become a concern in later rounds, so just be aware of it.
Topios: I liked the strong theme of fatherhood you show not only through Rin and Ron but also Loki and Hel. Rin was nicely characterized and her introduction via Minos' office was a very clever touch that made their initial meeting believable and engaging. That said I felt Ron got a bit lost despite being a viewpoint character, and his reactions seemed a bit too untrained at times. Loki also made me wonder – you portray him as a bumbling fool and I kept expecting him to reveal he's been tricking the lot of them, but he never did. There was no sense of edge to him and I missed that element sorely in your characterization. You're dealing with humans interacting with gods, make us feel there's an element of danger and that alone will raise the stakes.
30. Eiko Runeguarde vs. Arya
COMMENTS FOR ARYA
BagnaTheSupervillain: Although at the beginning of the entry I felt like the interaction between the two characters was a bit forced and didn't go anywhere, the latter half of this entry did an excellent job using the contrasts between Eiko and Arya to give them reasons to clash while keeping both of them sympathetic and making use of their backstories. This gave the entry a good emotional core, but a great deal of the entry felt overly padded and drawn out. This entry also did a good job advancing the central mystery storyline and balancing it with character moments and conflict. The story and use of characters in the entry was very good overall, but finding a way to express your ideas more efficiently would go a long way to making your stories more accessible.
Lithicbee: I liked that you gave equal weight to Arya and Eiko for much of the story. After part 2 of 3, I even felt like you were going to have Eiko kill off your own OC. I think this was a perfect matchup and you took advantage of both characters' backgrounds to set up the tension between them. But because you started out the story from Eiko's point of view, it was a little jarring when, with "Arya thought about the waifish woman she'd just semi-adopted," the POV switched to Arya. At first I thought you were using a third-person limited narration with Eiko, then switching to one with Arya, but eventually you have a third-person semi-omniscient where we can see both their thoughts. I would recommend either presenting both their thoughts right away so the audience knows what type of narration to expect, or break up the sections based on whose perspective we are seeing the story from, such as by using a double line break or * * * between sections.
Overall, the story and the dialogue within it seemed to drag on for longer than needed, with Arya and Eiko often talking about the same subject repeatedly and then also doing what they were talking about. It felt needlessly stretched out. Also, try to re-read your work for repeated words or phrases very close together, which can be distracting. Some examples: mere moments & mere feet; lashed out & lashed out; making an attempt & making an attempt.
RobinRone: You did a great job of finding the aspects of your opponent that played well off your own OC. However, while a lot happened in this entry, it didn't have much of a message to convey. Things happened - people talked or fought - but it didn't mean anything. It didn't challenge the characters in a non-physical way. How did Arya grow or change? What perspective or emotional state shifted because of the events in this entry? What did she learn about herself? Stories are more than just events - they are journeys and ideas. Consider carefully what tale you are telling beyond what's happening in it.
SaintKhan: There were some great moments of dialogue between Eiko and Arya, but they seem to drag on a bit too long. Look to edit out anything repetitive, or things the reader already knows, like information about the Fleet, the Gods, or the Ferryman. Even if your opponent's character does not know these things, remember that while she is hearing this information for the first time, the reader is not, and it kills the pacing of your story. Your combat suffered from the same problem. A lot of the tension from the combat was dissolved away when it became clear that no one feels any pain. This made combat more of a chore, with no real menace. Many times, the fighting would devolve into back-and-forth exchanges where the combatants were only mildly hurt. Just as with your dialogue, don't repeat yourself. Each blow in the fight should change the nature of the conflict, each injury should have lasting meaning. If two characters exchange blows, and neither is meaningfully changed by it, then there was no point in fighting in the first place. In both your dialogue and fighting, cut these extra exchanges and boil everything to only the most necessary, meaningful points.
Topios: You were lucky to get an opponent with an almost eerily well suited point of conflict and you use this tension well in their standoff where Eiko's anger makes sense due to her background. I particularly liked their short talk in the beginning where the slight differences between their worlds are contemplated and the search for clues in the Slums. Your entry felt like it dragged on a bit at times though, repeating things we'd already been told or just having repetitive words in general. Try to get a beta to help you sort out the unnecessary details and other mistakes so we don't get distracted from the story.
31. Tetsume vs. **Dice Veladakis by :iconuvnote:
COMMENTS FOR TETSUME
BagnaTheSupervillain: The development of Izanami having Tetsume in her debt is opens many interesting possibilities for how that could pay off later in the story, and I also liked how Dice was allowed to go off and try to make a new living for herself in Hades. However, many of the actions of the characters felt insufficiently justified, and it generally felt like they were being driven around according to the demands of the story. This was especially noticeable when Tetsume volunteered to sacrifice himself for Dice, which happened so spontaneously that it didn't really offer us much insight into his character. Various technical errors such as excessive quotation marks and repeating sentences happened often enough to be distracting, and the writing frequently felt a bit awkward. I'd recommend recruiting a beta in the future to help you sort out technical problems.
Lithicbee: As with your audition, this entry had formatting, spelling, and grammar errors that made it difficult to read. Let me share two suggestions that, if you take them to heart, could make your next writing effort much more readable.
1) Understand when to use quotes. Quotes are for dialogue and sometimes to surround odd words. If you use quotes around names, places, or ordinary words, it suggests to the reader that there is something odd or strange about those items, and it slows the reader down while they try to figure out your intent. My best advice to you: only use quotes for dialogue for now.
2) Dialogue. Your dialogue is not formatted properly, so it becomes difficult to tell what is narration and what is something a character in your story is saying. This also slows down the reading of your story. I found this helpful article after a short search (http://bubblecow.co/formatting-dialogue/). There are probably books you can buy or other articles, but this one is a good start. The only thing I would do differently than in the article is use double quotes for dialogue (" ") instead of single quotes (' '), as double quotes are more commonly used. If you format your dialogue in this manner, using new paragraphs each time a different person speaks, it will go a long way toward making your writing more readable and thus more enjoyable.
I did like that you addressed Dice's loss of memory in your story.
RobinRone: Consider enhancing your prose with stronger description. Stating what characters think, say, or do does convey WHAT they are doing, but not the manner in which they are doing them. For example, consider this simple action: Opening a door. Now ask yourself, how many ways can that be done? Is it torn open? Thrown open? Softly nudged open? Slowly opened? What emotions do each of these phrases convey? Consider adding feeling words to these same phrases: Eagerly torn open. Angrily thrown open. Surreptitiously nudged open. Slowly opened with hesitation. Now we're getting somewhere! Now we're setting a mood and setting a scene. This is where your story stops being a series of events, and starts being something that grabs people's attention!
SaintKhan: You have the beginnings of a plot here, and an emotional core to your story. Tetsume sacrificing his freedom to erase Dice's memories is an interesting conundrum. Now, expand on these ideas. Dice clearly wants these memories gone, but will she really be a better person without them? She will be less pained in the short run, but she will also know that she is the kind of person who runs and hides from emotional pain. Is Tetsume really willing to give up his freedom for a temporary gift, at best? This is a complex issue. Don't forget to explore as much of it as you can before deciding what your characters do. Dice could weigh these options and still decide to have the memories removed. Tetsume could still trade his service if he feels that it is at least a start on the road to redemption. But don't short-change the heart of your story. Ask yourself what each possible outcome might be, have your characters weigh a few of these, then tell us why they made that they choices they did.
Topios: I liked how you used Dice's wish to forget as a center of the story, and Tetsume being in Izanami's dept opens a lot of doors. Your entry was a bit hard to read for me though, so I would suggest getting somebody to help you format it like Lithicbee suggest. I also think your story would be stronger if you practiced showing. Try to avoid the word "because" and describe what they do and how they do it instead.
COMMENTS FOR DICE
BagnaTheSupervillain: The conflicts that drive both the main characters felt very clearly defined and relatable. The idea of Dice being unable to get over her anger because she's dead is an interesting way to make her death matter to the story instead of just being a way to get her to Hades. Tetsume's conflicted personality and struggle with his dark side was also very nicely done, and the tragic conclusion felt appropriate and showed the stakes of behavior in Hades. Dice's story in the entry felt less compelling to me, partially because Dice did little other than get moved into the position we were told she would be in by the character sheet. Now that we've gotten to that point, I'm looking forward to seeing how the rest of her story unfolds.
Lithicbee: Overall this comic (32 pages! Amazing) is well done and had me turning the virtual pages. You handled both Dice and Tetsume well, giving them real motivations, giving each a hook that makes me want to read more about them, and bringing them together and setting them on the same path in a believable fashion. I like how you played with the fact that Tetsume is a very black-and-white character, and the double-page spread where he controls the blood he has spilled... it rocked. Plus, powers for Dice: intriguing. I like that you brought Tetsume to a place where his story has a nice conclusion if you choose not to visit him again, but it is also open for more to happen (and I actually want to know what happens to him).
Minor quibbles: The quotation marks around Tetsume's name when Minos and Persephone say it: I'm not sure if this is a dig at shadow9980's tendency to use these quotes at inappropriate times or not, but it has the same effect of slowing me down as I wonder why the name is in quotes. Try not to slow the reader down unnecessarily. The other part that slowed me down was the drop of blood that falls on page 10. I read and re-read this, wondering if it was from a papercut (given how she was holding the brochure and where the blood was on her finger) or perhaps was from her business deal with Saturday, since he mentions being business partners. Of course this is all explained on the next page, but perhaps a few more drops of rain in the background or having Dice look up would have made the transition smoother.
Please don't be late a third time if you make it to the next round, because I want to find out what happens to Dice next and I would hate for you to be disqualified.
RobinRone: This is a really fantastic entry that makes excellent use of powerful visuals and creative ideas. You've incorporated your opponent's character well and even pulled him (a little) into a similar issue as Dice - unwanted memories. Your characterization was spot-on for everyone and you gave Tetsume a chance to shine just as much as Dice. My only complaint is the thematic elements, while present, were weak. I wasn't sure if you were going for the message of "you can't escape your past" or "let go of anger before it consumes you". Either could have worked well, but as is it seemed like both were present and as a result muddying the waters. Tetsume's fall to his darker side acts well as a cautionary tale for Dice - he shows us what happens to those that become angry ghosts. However, the quiet, melancholy feel to the final pages of the entry are so devoid of anger in tone that they don't propel that message forward. Don't get me wrong, it's a very strong entry. I just think, with a liiiiiittle tweaking, it could be even better.
SaintKhan: You have great voice in this entry. Dice, Tetsume, Minos, and Saturday are all distinct and well-done. I liked how you used Tetsume's backstory within the framework of Hades, and set up both his current situation and several possible outcomes. Dice trying to trade away her memory was also quite clever. I was a bit confused at first when music notes began to appear. It was unclear that Dice was singing at first, and when it became clear, I was left wondering why she would do that while trying to hide from a killer demon. This was minor, though. The rest of the entry was well-paced, well-foreshadowed, and well-executed.
Topios: You told a really good story using the elements given and portrayed all the characters you used well. I definitely respect the effort you've put into tying Dice and Tetsume's stories together with the theme of unwanted memories, and the pacing was excellent, giving us both action and quiet moments without anything dragging on. That said there were a few things that could have been expressed clearer. I assume that the blood on Dice's finger is from making a deal with Saturday, but it just seemed to appear out of nowhere without explanation. Dice singing while trying to hide also seems like an odd choice, as it would have gotten her killed if it didn't happen to be a new ability. With a few tweaks you have a very solid entry and I look forward to seeing where you'll take it now that Dice is sans memory. Just please get your entry in on time, seeing you lose by forfeit would be a shame.
32. Caeleigh Rowan and Ron Carter vs. Cassandra
COMMENTS FOR CAELEIGH AND RON
BagnaTheSupervillain: The dialogue between Ron and Caeleigh was felt fairly natural and was entertaining to read, effectively showing the history between them while also showing the difficulty of conversations with telepathy. However, some of the development of the characters felt a bit abrupt and unearned. Caeleigh kissing Ron didn't seem to be motivated by anything in particular, and it remains unclear what effect, if any, this will have on the relationship between them. Similarly, Caeleigh increasing her comfort in using her telepathic abilities is a good potential source of character growth, but having her improve her abilities simply by being told to feels a bit cheap. The group of characters Ron and Caeleigh were spending time with kind of annoyed me and didn't seem to have any personalities beyond their assortment of goofily-written accents.
Lithicbee: I like that even though it has been two years since the audition story, Caeleigh's telepathy is still the bane of her existence and she has not given in to Ron's love for her. That being said, I found it confusing when she suddenly returned his affections. It left me wondering what had changed in the story versus the last two years of their (after)life. Your story had grammar, spelling, and tense issues that were distracting and which could have been caught by an editor or experienced reader. (Some common errors: where vs. were, you're vs. your, than vs. then, putting "heart rate" in quotes for no reason.) Try to avoid providing needed information in the form of characters telling each other things they already know. This form of exposition went out of vogue a long time ago. For example, don't have Caeleigh talk about how her telepathy is a burden, just show the reader how it burdens her. Finally, the section with Nicole, Mohama, Penelope, and Tony does is a side trip that does not add anything to the story. Any important information from that section could have been shared more effectively without adding all the additional characters. I did enjoy your characterizations, both of your characters and of Cassandra, and how you brought them together. Cassandra's promise of less people around seems like a genuine reason for Caeleigh to agree to work together. Despite the technical issues, this story felt alive to me and the characters felt genuine. If you move on to Round 2, please have an editor go over your entry before you submit it.
RobinRone: Your concept of Cassandra picking Caeleigh out at Apollo's orders in an interesting one, as well as the idea that there is more to Caeleigh's powers than she knows. However, this entry suffered from a lack of conflict to move it forward. Conflict does not have to mean a fight - it means characters having a goal, and encountering obstacles to achieve that goal. This entry also suffers from a lack of stakes - something that makes accomplishing the goal important, to make the reader interested in what happens to these characters. With this entry, Cassandra seemed to have some goals, but encountered no obstacles to make achieving them difficult. Caeleigh and Ron, on the other hand, did not seem motivated to do anything. By all appearances, they were content to sit in the same place for two years doing absolutely nothing. I find it hard to believe that they were there for so long and did not do anything to better their situation. Did Caeleigh truly endure mind-splitting pain from all these voices for that long without trying to find a way to stop it? Did Ron pine after her without that affection being returned for all this time? And what about these people they're with? As they are, these characters are face-less entities mostly devoid of character, relying on ethnic stereotypes to give them an identity. They do not serve any purpose. Overall, due to the lack of conflict and stakes, the entry as a whole struggled to have a purpose. Think about an idea you might like to explore - a message, a moral, a question. Then use your characters and your plot to explore that idea. This will give your entry direction and purpose. Once you have that, introduce conflict and raise the stakes to give it emotional weight.
SaintKhan: The expansion of Caeleigh's powers are an interesting development for this character. The idea that she's really only scraped the surface of her true capabilities is an exciting one, and using your opponents as teachers or foils can really help you explore how this power grows and evolves, and how it changes Caeleigh in the process.
However, there were some story choices here that I found a bit odd. Caeleigh and Ron have been in Hades for 2 years now. In story terms, this seemed to serve two purposes. First, it established that Caeleigh has a hard time with her powers while in large crowds and has become a bit of a recluse as a result. Second, it introduces a number of friends that the story immediately had her say goodbye to. This first development excites me, because it explores how Caeleigh's powers can define her development as character. The second development was less effective. What purpose in the story does this motley band of international stereotypes serve? What do they say about Ron and Caeleigh, other than that they can make friends with other people of their age group and species? I find myself objecting to this so strongly because it ended up being the emotional crux of the story. Who are these people? What are they friends with Ron and Caeleigh? Why aren't they summoned to help find Charon as well? These are all question I begin to ask when characters have no clear role in a story. As it stood, they were merely a vehicle for the main characters to have a tearful goodbye.
Remember to use all of your characters effectively. Ask yourself what each of them brings to the story, and how they change the main character by being there. If you cannot find a satisfactory answer to these questions, change the character, his involvement in the plot, or cut him entirely.
Topios: I really enjoyed the conversation between Ron and Caeleigh where you show the difference between what he says and what he thinks, it feels natural and makes her decision not to give in due to pity even after two years that much stronger. I also liked that Cassandra's challenged Caeleigh to find out who she is via her ability a nice touch, although I have to admit I'm not sure how she knew what Caeleigh can do or why exactly she'd decided to work with them. You sadly also seem to cut the learning process short, giving instant results which aren't satisfying to read about and basically summarizing the character sheet. Explore your characters reactions and show us instead of telling us, that will bring out the ideas better and make them more engaging. Lastly I hope you'll consider getting a beta as there were a good deal of distracting mistakes that could easily be fixed with a bit of help.
COMMENTS FOR CASSANDRA
BagnaTheSupervillain: I liked the idea that the nature of how somebody died could give them more importance in the afterlife, especially in the way it was used to justify Ron and Caeleigh being important enough for Cassandra to work with. Cassandra was depicted well, though Ron and Caeleigh came across as a bit too one-note to me. Overall, I found this entry too short and lacking in story for a round entry
Lithicbee: While the story was well-written and well-formatted, it felt rather cold and sterile to me, with a lot of information given but nothing much happening. When the characters do move on, Cassandra is so obviously moving the story from point A to point B, she even announces what point B is called. I did not get the sense of Caeleigh's anguished relationship with her telepathy from this story, and the reason for Cassandra to invite Caeleigh and Ron along with her seemed thin. If she was interested in figuring out Charon's disappearance so that she can get home, why burden herself with taking these two along, other than because the characters need to interact in the OCT?
RobinRone: I thought you incorporated the backstory of your opponent's OCs in an interesting and creative way, with the idea that their self-sacrifice had earned them a place in Elysium. However, this entry was mostly a vehicle for exposition, not a story. Which is unfortunate, because that creative idea could have developed into a very interesting central theme. Consider who else has experience with self sacrifice: Cassandra. You point out that she's been so busy running around doing Apollo's errands that she hasn't had a time to find something as simple as a friend. That she is alone, for a largely thankless job. Here are two people that gave up everything for others and earned paradise. Cassandra has also given away her life in a manner of speaking -- but what has she found? You could have spent your entry exploring this concept, using the opponent's OCs to dramatize it, rather than having Cassandra deliver explanations and rifle through filing cabinets. Your entry also suffered from a lack of conflict and a lack of stakes. What obstacles does Cassandra encounter achieving her goal? None. You even tell the audience that what she's doing is easy. What consequences will there be if she fails? Again, as far as the audience knows, nothing. As a result, the lack of conflict (conflict =/= fight, it means difficulties in achieving a desired outcome) and a lack of stakes makes this entry aimless, with no central idea to explore and nothing emotionally compelling to draw the reader through it.
SaintKhan: You have some very interesting ideas in here. The noble sacrifice of Caeleigh and Ron's deaths having power and currency in the underworld is a great concept that could really pay dividends in the future with other opponents. Highlighting the relationship between Cassandra and her father is a good move, as is her jaded approach to the quests she's become accustomed to getting.
However, this entry had a very simple, by-the-numbers plot that never really explored the characters of Caeleigh and Ron, or how they relate to Cassandra. They meet, and she decides to guide them on their quest. The most intersting part, where Caeleigh can read Cassandra's thoughts and Cassandra thinks Caeleigh might be a demigod, never really goes anywhere. Cassandra tells herself that only another demigod would have been able to recognize so much about her with a glance. However, when she discovers that Caeleigh is actually psychic, she is not surprised, and never mentions it again. The idea that she's come across something new in her quest should be novel to her.
While I like Cassandra's jaded approach to questing, it mutes the drama of the entry by making everything 'just another job'. By now she must realize that there is something different about this quest, that she's not simply on another hero's journey, but only a small piece in a much bigger game filled with adventurers just like her. Exploring how her expectations have created a false sense of familiarity and security that this adventure threatens would be a good way to bring back some tension into Cassandra's tale.
Topios: You have a couple of really interesting ideas that can have a lot of influence on the rest of the OCT. The way people have died functioning as a currency and being noticeable by certain others being the main one. If this means that central persons in Hades will treat Caeleigh and Ron differently it makes sense that Cassandra would want to travel with them if it could ease her task. We got a good look into Cassandra's thought process as well. The same isn't the case for your opponent's characters, I would have liked the meeting between them to explorer Ron and Caeleigh deeper and lead to some sort of significant change or development no matter how small. Add some sort of conflict to move the plot and make things more interesting, show something working against the characters and make us worry about them if things don't succeed. That'll make the whole story more engaging and bring out the strong points so much better.