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Entry #1

June Writing Competition Reviews

2013-07-04 00:30:23 by mhzinski

Here are my reviews of every story submitted to the June Writing Competition. All pieces are scored out of 10 like all of my other criticisms.

Everyone is given a pretty small slice, probably 1/2 to 1/3 of what I would normally say because I am not sure who exactly is truly concerned with what I have to say. If they don't care I would prefer not to waste time providing feedback. If anyone would like for me to expound upon my comments on their work then ask and I'll do what I can.

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Story 1 - SpikeVallentine's Thing (that's the title you get because you didn't title it)

I'll put in as much effort as you did and just say nice, in a way.

1/10

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Story 2- The Blind Lose Sight by jecjoker

Not a whole lot of plot arc because of the short length of the story. I also felt like there wasn't much depth communicated beyond the whole, there's a blind guy and it makes the situation unique because he's blind sort of thing. I think beyond developing the concept, of which there's not much to criticize because it's so short, there's the whole weird format. Everything is in quotes even when it isn't dialogue and all the lines have their word numbers after them. Maybe it's some very avant garde thing and I don't understand it but it makes the whole thing look like junk. Very unclean presentation.

2/10

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Story 3 - A Powerful Mind by Luke

It's very touching in the classic "A Boy and his Dog" was but has a lot of awkward unrealism to it in the sense that the events that would need to come together for the story to unfold seem pretty spectacular. The readers are encouraged to believe that a boy has a seeing eyed dog that is very poorly trained and doesn't use a harness with and goes walking about unsupervised. On top of that, that this person doesn't have the vaguest concept of swimming of treading water or any self preservation skills.

That's admittedly cruel, but the more I think about the story beyond it's emotional context the more it becomes frustrating to me. The heroism and touchingness gets overshadowed by the fact that it seems like a problem that never should have happened in the first place happened and was resolved by more seemingly improbably events. The whole thing unfolded rather jerkily in sort of a "because the story goes like this" de facto way. On my second read through I found it almost uncomfortable and awkward.

Very good emotional storytelling (though maybe a little more indirectness with emotions; showing instead of telling) but very awkward logical progression and a very heavy reliance on suspension of belief that ultimately tears the story apart.

6.5/10

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Story 4 - What My Eyes Can't See by blackdragon24

First off the presentation is terrible and that's a combo-fault of Newgrounds and you not putting paragraphs in and formatting the dialogue correctly. That being said it was a pretty interesting story and the first inclusion of a twist as a direct result of being blind. I felt like much of the racial tension thing was very silly and cliche to the point of almost being accidentally racist. I also think the heaping spoonfuls of emotional gravy at the end were a little bit silly.

With a story this short there really isn't a ton of space to build up complex racial issues and develop them but they could have been presented more complexly and elegantly. Instead it felt very forced.

I think the ignorance of reality due to blindness was used very well (even though it alludes so heavily to Dave Chapelle I really found the whole thing more humorous than dramatic). Work around the edges on presentation and subtlety would make it much nicer to read.

6/10

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Story 5 - The Truth Behind Being Blind (2nd edition) by Carbon64

Short simple and straightforward. I appreciate the fact that there wasn't too much trying to be done with a short amount of space. The ambiguity and analysis are a little bit hokey for my taste, but also weren't over dramatic which would have been worse.

The way it is presented in a free verse poetic way makes it interesting and more thoughtful. It is patient and humble writing. I think it could be made better by going into more specifics but it doesn't fail at anything it does. I think the biggest fault is that it needs to go more into risk at presenting an issue or point of view or some other novelty for the audience.

7/10

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Story 6 - Jupiter's Eye by Elixur

Really tedious to read. I understand the agenda as proving to the reader what a genius the author is. It's really tiresome and not a lot is said though a lot is printed. There are also some very poorly used words (see martyrdom). In general I read a story that could be very easily surmised as...

"I'm a genius. I met a guy who I became friends with, so he is also a genius cause we're friends. Everyone else is stupid. School is stupid." Seasoned with aphorism and eloquence and flourish but that's still what the story is. 15 horsepower in a Ferrari is still 15 horsepower.

I feel like there's very little pathos and the writing becomes much more about what's written than what the writing means. That's not being all metaphysical and getting into serious psychic shit. It simply means that the message needs to be improved or maybe more properly cultivated. Turning a normal kind character with an added quirk to fit the contest description followed with the whole "this character is so much like me that they're too beautiful for this world and only someone as amazing as me can see it" seems almost silly and self-aggrandizing. Frustrating and emptying to read.

4/10

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Story 7 - Lulz64

cool story bro.

1/10

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Story 8 - Nothing is How it Seems by ProgressStudios

A couple of silly gramatical errors (like changing the gender of time). But really short story, which was interesting because it moved very rapidly that I didn't understand it upon my first reading. I think the whole making an odyssey out of the entire experience with surreal imagery and imagination was a very cool concept.

I also feel like it needed a lot more work being developed into something. Giving all of what's written more space to properly breathe and be revealed to the reader at a palatable pace. Perhaps that was left out due to boredom or a desire to just have something finished.

In any capacity it's an interesting story and concept, but not very good writing.

4/10

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Story 9 - Droste by me

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Story 10 - Great Sorrow by BrutalSurvivor

The whole thing was very eh to me. The story was in 1st gear the whole time. There isn't really any characterization and not much motivation is explained so there's not much to go on. I actually found it interesting that you end up not even knowing if the character is good or evil. He doesn't even seem to be curious of which he is. To me the most intriguing parts of the writing are unintentionally existential. That's not a good thing.

3/10

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Story 11 - Second Thoughts by coolkid87

The whole structure of this is very immature. You make the whole first paragraph on context sound like a chore and purposefully distance it from the story. On top of that you create an environment that you don't really justify. Apparently this really good and nice kid gets picked on all the time by a kid who is but is for some reason really popular and well liked. Maybe it's just some commentary on high school that I don't really understand but the whole thing seems shallowly passive agressive more than anything else.

Also the whole being blind is so bad you have to kill yourself thing to me is more funny than tragic. I mean I obviously cannot empathize but you descend into soap opera melodrama with that one.

3/10

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Story 12 - Tiresias by MrTheJazz

I don't get the whole Tiresias title but I do like that blind character not being a self-pitying and depressing character. The whole old man dialogue is a little bit weird though. It ventures more into the guy being eccentric and then just downright creepy more than it has to do with blindness. In my opinion it doesn't actually deal very much with blindness as an issue or theme, just the character happens to be blind and the story would make sense with anyone else. That's not necessarily a bad thing but I feel like it's a bit of a waste of the theme.

The fact that the entire situation isn't explained very well is a bit of a cop out too. A lot of loose ends and introduced and just tied up at the end with the whole "well I just became really good at killing people by going to the how to kill people while you're blind program at my local community college" thing. It's a bit of a frustrated stretch that would be cool if it were explained.

6/10

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Story 13 - Thief by LazyBoyGames

It's tidy from beginning to end but just very silly. There's not a whole lot to work with but there's not too much story structure and then the main character goes off on this story from his past. There's potential here but nothing happened to it and it's way too short to be engaging with what's presented.

3/10

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Story 14 - something by RedXBlood

You didn't follow the rules. It's not in the thread so if your story was a link it stinks.

0/10

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Story 15 - I'm Blind, Motherfucker by Red-Halo

Honestly this story is properly hilarious. It has the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the comic intelligence of a 14 year old but it does exactly what it's supposed to do. The insanity that pervades through the whole thing is actually pretty consistent and allows me to get through the whole thing laughing at it instead of logically questioning it.

Again though the whole blind theme is hardcore shoehorned into the story and doesn't really do a ton. None of the main points of the story are particularly funny because the main character is blind. In fact the rather obscure banana compulsion at the beginning was probably my favorite two paragraphs from the entire competition.

I think this would actually be very good as a cartoon script or something of like if the intensity was turned down a bit. It's not great literature by any stretch of the imagination but it's clear engaging and entertaining.

8/10

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Story 16 - The Blinding Bosom by G1ber

I feel like this piece wins the unnecessary word of the century award for "auscultate" which is definitely the first time I've ever needed to google a word I've read on newgrounds. Upon finding it means listen I was pretty upset that it wasn't some actually useful word. Aside from that this is a very bizarre story and again seems to have almost nothing to do with the fact that the main character is blind he just happens to be blind.

As an aside not to be directed at this piece; a concerning trend is how many of these story suffer from making someone blind for no other reason than needing a blind person. That doesn't instantly make any story about blindness, it just makes the story feature someone who is blind. There is a difference. Cherry ice cream is different from Ice cream with a cherry on top.

All the Eden allusions seemed odd and the whole thing came off as overbearing and Calvinistic about how everyone is evil. Rather boring and not particularly entertaining.

4.5/10

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Story 17 - It Makes No Sense by Sceler

You're right in that it doesn't make sense. It's also awfully awfully awfully dramatic for something with so little characterization. There's almost Russian levels of self-loathing and despair crammed into so small a space it almost because an exercise in irony. I don't think that was the point, and I think things could have been toned down a little and been a little bit less symbolic. Then perhaps the piece wouldn't be so overpowering it turns drama into parody.

3/10

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Story 18 - The Revival of Sir Gindol by BoobMarley

An interesting fantasy story but I felt like there was no real reason given to care about the main character or his life. It was just kind of presented as a vaguely honorable and all around good guy whom we should feel bad for because other people make fun of him. The lack of visual imagery really hurts fantasy because each version of a fantasy world is different and there is not any clear cut reality to expect of be presented. So as a reader I felt like I had to assume most of what I took away from the story.

Perhaps that was the intent, but even if it were there were clearer ways of going about it. The abundance of rambling sections was rather boring. A lot of the content could have been cut out to streamline the story without removing anything vital. A less fluffy version of this story with a richer more understandable history may have redeemed it.

5/10

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Story 19 - Imagination by ian-inside-out

Another one of these cute subtle pieces much like Carbon's that I enjoy reading. It is small and poetic but conveys its point with grace and subtlety and allows the reader to think on it.

I am a little unsettled by it as though denial is a bigger theme than blindness. I'm not sure if I really understand what was trying to say and if what it said was intentional or accidental. I don't think it's a problem of me reading it correctly but I think it's actually negatively whimsical that it lacks proper clarity to convey it's message. It can still but done but it needs to be refined.

6.5/10

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Story 20 - The Steel Tomb by Ragnar4200

An exciting story that struggles with two key issues. The first is that the formatting turns it into a big lasagna of text, the second being that the pacing is very awkward. The tension sort of drifts in and out because of times the main character goes off on a story or analysis while his life is constantly in peril. As a single action scene that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense and definitely messes up the flow of the story

There is also pretty much nothing in the way of characterization. There isn't really much motivation of reason or context given to the story at all, especially since the piece is long enough to warrant a little bit of context. The key issue is definitely pacing though.

6/10

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Story 21 - Twist of Sensation by TheInnerScience

Though this is the most artistic and "literature" piece in the classical sense of the word I found the whole thing drifting back and forth between dull and interesting. Much of the physical description and plot were intriguing but a lot of the philosophical musings were a little too navel-gazing and never really took me anywhere as a reader.

I appreciate the ambition in the piece but it definitely needed more of a focal point to be effective. There isn't enough happening in the piece and the main character simply isn't interesting enough to pull through the entire story. Some better compromise of focus of the character and a more climactic plot would help it out a lot.

6.5/10

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Story 22 - Blind Date by hobowono

It's rather whimsical but I feel like there actually was a chance for it to be a meaningful piece with well developed emotion. It then devolved into violence and prurience where I suppose it lost patience and just kinda devolved the whole way downhill. So it goes.

I feel like it would actually be more effective to make the protagonists motives known at the start and then showcase his disingenuous behavior as impressive rather than sincere and just rip it away at the end. The whole thing became sickly desperate and very unappetizing.

3/10

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Story 23 - Cheri by EASTBEAST

Perhaps I don't understand the subtext of the story but when your plot revolves around pie you're going to have a very difficult time selling me on it. Not that I don't like pie but it's just a very boring story that goes absolutely nowhere and has no need for the main character to be blind. It seems like was, yet again, done for the sake of having "the blind character" to fulfill the requirement.

The plot is so very boring and almost transparently emotionless. It's worse than a bad romantic comedy.

1/10

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Story 24 - Analogies by Rigg0rMORtis

It is very apt that this work is divided into different sections because to me it either excels or lacks in each particular section. I found the first few sections very engaging and interesting, and found the later sections to grow stale very quickly. All of the secondary characters are very bland and the interactions between all of the character are in general very plastic.

The whole work had a 2001 Kubrick vibe to it, lots of excitement and suspense being built up even with very mediocre acting but never had that climactic moment that tied everything together and put it over the top.

I really do like what is presented as an intro and it's obviously coming from a good place with good ideas and a very sound concept of writing, but it is also very obviously half baked and gets cold if you try to bite through the entire thing. It simply needs more refinement of the characters and the conclusion to elevate it another standard deviation.

7.5/10

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The following two entries were beyond the deadline but I'll review them as well

Story 25 - Come To My Senses by suprofound

Very flowery and poetic writing. Also extraordinarily metaphorical in a way that abstracts meaning rather than give beauty to a description. It seems much more like an exercise in writing in a certain style than any story. It reads almost better as a poem but it still very unclear writing in it's intent and tone.

Also "vein existence", just a pretty good example of relying too much on cliche and hyperbole and other silly stuff to write in a style rather than just simply writing.

3/10

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Story 26 - The Rouse Perfume by olvvvvlo

The whole thing is a bit of a mess. There are times where the grammatical and spelling mistakes get so bad the writing loses meaning. On top of that there doesn't seem to be a ton of direction or characterization, just a lot of stuff happening for the sake of having stuff happen.

I think the piece needs to be calmed down and reexamine the parts that are working and the parts that aren't working and just be reassembled in a more coherent manner and with a deeper more engaging context. That's admittedly very vague advice but the whole thing was so rushed I don't know which mistakes are an error of organization versus poor storytelling.

2/10


Comments

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YellowisCOOLYellowisCOOL

2013-08-16 00:49:37

Wow, you're a harsh reviewer.

mhzinski responds:

thank you


EASTBEASTEASTBEAST

2013-07-06 10:19:16

Hmm interesting. Lol I can take things with a bit of humor so it is fine. I didn't get the same insight from the original review however, in all honesty. Seeing your reasoning makes it clearer what you were trying to say, which is all I was after. I'll keep some of it in mind for my next piece, thanks.


suprofoundsuprofound

2013-07-05 22:13:24

Ooo ooo... I want one of those VVVVV. One of those angry section by section breakdown critiques. Review mine as whatever you want it to be; short story, poem, "Living with blindness" hospital pamphlet... w/e. Don't hold back, I was wrong cause it was funnier that way. Give me your full Simon Cowell meets Jerry Holkins. For real, I think it could help.


EASTBEASTEASTBEAST

2013-07-05 17:55:46

You seem to be focusing on what is interesting to yourself as opposed to taking in things like craft, which you make no evidence of analyzing. This is fine if you are only focusing on your opinion, although if you are taking the time to review something, showing some constructive framework is helpful to your credibility. (A.ka. Why is something boring to you? How could something be improved? What parts were working in the piece that you could suggest to be elaborated on to help it.) That is why I offered for you to send me a Pm with additional insight to your view. Unfortunately, without construction, a "review" is relatively useless. However if your only intent was on stating your opinion, then there is no need to send me a message to clarify or go any further.

mhzinski responds:

No I definitely did. I'm sorry that you have to cry and whine that I didn't but I did. I can actually clarify it since you insist on pressing. I will in fact paraphrase what was used in my original review and elaborate with contextual examples of why what you contributed sucked.

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"The story goes nowhere" - The plot can be simplified into. Girl (name is silly I am calling her girl) [that is an admittedly stupid opinion and has no bearing on how good/bad the story is] is blind, meets a guy. Guy is a cook, girl is a food critic. They both like each other. The end. See a story generally goes like this:

http://www.hacktext.com/wp-conten t/uploads/2011/03/Story-Arc-Diagr am-w-Subplots.gif

and your story goes like this...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikip edia/commons/c/c7/Oslo_Airport_Ga rdermoen_runway.jpg

Notice how there is not part of your story where any character has a problem. In fact the only part where there is an origin of a problem the story is concluded. There is no resolution to any issue and there is no dynamic. The story is just kind of there. A pyramid of peaches toppling over is not a problem. That is like saying deciding what shirt to put on in the morning is a problem that deserve deep introspection through thoughtful serious fiction.

And please for the love of God don't try and defend this by saying the story was about learning to ask for help because Daniel doesn't and the main blind girl doesn't. Ever. (The girl concedes to let Daniel help her and Daniel simply implies that the girl can help) Nor is the story about all the merits of blind people or keeping a positive attitude or anything because you cut off the story because anything happens. How do we know she doesn't F the pie up hardcore by trying to help. You seem to be implying to me that most critics don't know what they're talking about and I'm not even blind, so why would I be inclined to believe that anything positive is going to come of this? That would actually be an interesting story, what does she do to the pie. What happens to create this reversal of fortunes. What problems arise and are overcome.

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"Why is the main character blind?"

Here's what we know about the main character. She's blind. She's a food critic. She doesn't understand the basic architectural stability of a pyramid. Or perhaps that she's just really stupid because she shops blind without asking anyone for help. I guess it is also characterized from the first few paragraphs that she's a total bitch to anyone who offers to help her. Then she gets over it because she is bipolar or something.

There is absolutely nothing added to her character by her being blind. It doesn't do anything to enhance her experience and doesn't do anything to highlight a struggle or reinforce the plot (mostly because there really isn't a plot). The only person who could possibly be more boring is Daniel who all we really know about is that he's polite and an unbelievably terrible cook (coming from someone who has made pies before, how do you fuck up crust from one pie to the next? Seriously we're to believe this guy makes pies for a living and can't consistently make crust?).

Blindness has nothing to do with anything. You even say in the early part of the story that the one thing that happens because the main character is blind is a mistake anyone could make. Are you like purposefully trying to discredit yourself? Blindness did nothing to this story thematically or otherwise.

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"The story is emotionless"

I feel like this is pretty well covered by the other points. To reiterate. Nothing happens. Nothing happens. Nothing happens. Nothing happens. Nothing happens. The characters have no permanence other than advancing the story from section to section and then seem to morph into whatever helps move the story to the next section, apart from the whole main character being blind thing. Daniel goes from being someone who admits all people make mistakes at the beginning to someone who is in "despair" over the fact that he doesn't know "how to pie" at the end of the story. Rather misdirected there from the happy-go-lucky guy who was introduced all of 1000 words ago. Maybe the theme is everyone is bipolar. Or perhaps the theme is that this is truly terrible terrible writing. Just ghastly. Such a mess even when you try to find out what it's trying to be it can't agree on the proper answer.

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Literally everything can be turned into a matter of opinion if you're stubborn enough. That is not a joke. The difference between my first review and this current one is that one grazes over some areas that should be review to make a story more articulate and clear and enjoyable. This current review takes your face and presses it against the glass looking in at what a mess you've made of things.

You seem to have the difference between opinion and a thoughtful review divided over the line of a positive and negative review. Which is hilarious. It's made even more hilarious by the fact that your defense of your writing makes it sound like you worked hard on it and I didn't appreciate it properly when there is no way I haven't spent more time writing about it and reading it than you did writing it. Sorry but it sucks. I know it, and if you're honest with yourself you know it. Get over it and try again, but don't try and say it's good and I don't know what I'm talking about or I don't get it or it's complex or any of that shit because it simply is not. Your writing, this time, was not good enough. In fact it wasn't even good writing. Sure that's a matter of opinion, but it's also a very informed matter of opinion. You don't have to value it, nobody is making you value it. But you can't turn around and discredit it by calling it weak or insubstantial just because you don't like it.

Take it or leave but if you complain about it you simply prove you aren't looking at it objectively.


EASTBEASTEASTBEAST

2013-07-04 20:58:04

I tend to feel that for myself, there is more to a story than just cut and dry plot, or grandness for the sake of grandness to interest people. Taking something simple and making it interesting was something that was important to me, in my opinion. Also having a central message is something else I like to do, which perhaps I could make a bit clearer for some people.

That being said, thanks for taking the time to read it at least, which I appreciate. and if you wish to expand on your comments or any advice on how you would like to see it improve, feel free to write me in a PM. -Esty

mhzinski responds:

But key in on the word interesting. My point was that your story wasn't interesting. It wasn't novel or engaging. That doesn't have to do with simplicity or complexity. That has to do with creativity and originality. There were plenty of simple stories submitted that I enjoyed reading. There were no boring lifeless stories that were submitted that I enjoyed reading.


suprofoundsuprofound

2013-07-04 08:29:36

Maybe I didn't understand the point of the competition. I'm not much of a literature buff, so I did what I could to make a short "story" (I guess) that wrapt its plot in such intense descriptions that it was almost a riddle. I find that "just writing" usually makes for something that can't hold my attention for more than 10 seconds, especially if it's a short story.

If it was too much to get, a guy is doing something stupid like texting and tuning the radio while driving in the snow and has a car accident. It's close to christmas time, so on christmas day, in the hospital, he finds that he is now permanently blind. He festers in anger, then comes to terms with it and even comes to see it as a gift that frees him.

I gotta say, I do take a little issue with you saying that I relied "too much on clice". I did my best to stay away from over used phrases and descriptions. "Vein existence" and "lifts me", yeah maybe is fairly common, but I felt most of it was original. Maybe that's because, like I said, not much of a literature buff.

Anyway, I do appreciate the honest criticism. I hope you can appreciate my honest retort... thanks for the review.


BoobMarleyBoobMarley

2013-07-04 05:11:53

Yeah, these pretty accurately reflect how I feel about most of the entries. Good job with the criticism, and thanks on behalf of everyone for taking the time to read all the stories.

I'm holding onto the morbid hope that some of these shittier ones win so that the voice actors have to record them without laughing or committing suicide.