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Thread: A Meteoric Tale

  1. #1
    evanfardreamer's Avatar
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    Default A Meteoric Tale

    This is a complete rewrite of a story from April 2011 that failed on first go round. Target is two Oddish, and my character count came in at 10,192.

    The sky was streaked with crimson and ochre as the blazing sun set behind distant mountains. The last rays of its light reflected from the high, wispy clouds as sunset turned into early night. A large forest near the town of Celadon stirred as the creatures of the day gave way to the masters of the night.

    Deep in the forest, a clearing amidst the tall aspens and mighty oaks gave a beautiful view of the stars re-establishing their position in the sky. Creatures began moving along their habitual paths through the undergrowth, whether they sought food or mates or to avoid predators.

    A large lilac bush in full bloom at the edge of the clearing rustled softly. A group of several round, blue creatures crept into the open on stubby legs; atop their heads were long, broad leaves of a deep green. They wandered slowly across the meadow, pausing to look around them and occasionally nibble the shoots of grass they passed.

    The largest of them had been the first to step from the bush, and was also the first to reach the center of the clearing. He sat down and looked up at the last puffs of clouds and the brilliant stars beyond them. The others settled down near him, all spreading their leaves to absorb as much of the starlight as they could as they waited for moonrise.

    When it came, it did not disappoint. Though waxing it still illuminated the clearing, and the Oddish’ leaves seemed to glow with a silvery luminescence. More creatures crept from the underbrush to enjoy the soft moonlight. All were startled when a second source of light appeared in the sky – much brighter and faster than the moon, it streaked towards them from the south. Its argent glow made their shadows dance crazily as a large piece broke off of it.

    The larger piece continued overhead, but the smaller piece lost some of its impetus. It seemed to grow larger as it came closer, and all the creatures heard a loud roaring noise as it sped through the sky. The other creatures panicked, letting out assorted screams, hoots, and cries as they charged in any direction that seemed safe.

    The group of Oddish began to cry pearly tears, transfixed by the rushing doom overhead. The largest shook it off and turned to his friends. “Run!” he told them. It was enough to break the spell, and most of the rest began to scatter and hustle for the trees as fast as their stubby legs could carry them.

    Not all, though. One other Oddish did not flee. “We can break it!” the other said. “We must use the moon’s power!”

    The larger Oddish nodded. The two of them turned and spread their leaves, which turned a brilliant silver color. They drew in the moon’s energy as wisps of light that gathered above their heads, growing larger and more distinct as the meteorite tumbled towards them. When they could wait no longer, they blasted the gathered power as thick beams that were bright enough to cause their own shadows.

    Both beams of light struck the tumbling chunk of stone, already weakened by the atmosphere’s stresses. It exploded and threw shards of rock and crystal over a huge patch of forest; the majority were too small to cause damage, but some larger pieces broke branches and trunks as they crashed to the ground.

    The heart of the meteorite had not been rock though. It was instead a rough oval of some kind of crystal, which slammed into the edge of the clearing and tumbled. It rolled past the pair of Oddish and came to a crashing stop at a tangle of trees, knocking one of them partway over even as the crystal fractured around the middle.

    The cacophony of forest creatures subsided as they realized that doom had passed them by. The pair of Oddish sat back down, tired from having to channel so much energy at once. The peace did not last long, however, as the crystal orb began to crumble. The crack around the middle widened and revealed a blue glow from inside – it was hollow.

    Motion from inside showed that it was not empty, however. Stubby pink claws emerged and pulled a large pink creature out. It was bipedal, with a tightly curled tail and darker pink fins on its back that resembled wings. It was the source of the blue glow, an unearthly radiance limning the creature’s skin.

    Its face was contorted in anger, and it searched the clearing with its beady eyes until it saw the Oddish. Letting out a high pitched shriek it gestured wildly with its arms. That was the only warning they had before a wave of water appeared as if from thin air, scouring across the clearing and washing the Oddish to the side.

    They tumbled in the torrent of water, but it receded as quickly as it had come. The Oddish rose slowly, disoriented from the tumble. Before they could react, the foe’s second attack manifested as a gout of fire. The larger Oddish felt the searing heat from where he stood, but the flames struck the other Oddish full on and it screamed in pain. When the fire also vanished, the other Oddish lie motionless and badly burned.

    The larger Oddish ran towards his fallen friend. He saw shallow breathing and knew the other lived, but would have to stop this strange enemy before it killed them both. He looked up just as the foe used its third attack, this one a bolt of lightning that forked around the Oddish and left them unscathed.

    Oddish charged forward, gathering spores along the edges of his leaves. He retaliated before the enemy could launch another attack, shaking the spores off his leaves for the wind to carry. The cloud surrounded the foe which couldn’t help breathing, and within moments it began to look sickly and drooped.

    That didn’t stop it from counter-attacking though, as it hurled itself into the Oddish. The collision knocked Oddish tumbling again, but this time he spread his leaves and came to a stop sooner. The enemy picked itself up too, but the distance gave Oddish enough time to work loose a seed. Cupping it with his leaf, he slung the seed forward and hid the foe dead center. The seed burst open as it hit, thin roots growing impossibly quickly and wrapping around it.

    Oddish felt strength flow into the seed and drew that away, moving as quickly as it could towards his fallen friend. He directed that energy into the other Oddish whose breathing steadied. Faint light outlined the fallen Oddish’ leaves as the moonlight also helped restore its strength.

    The foe had not been idle, however and Oddish felt a surge of energy come from it. Turning around, he saw streaks of starlight drawing into the enemy and the blue glow from it seemed to solidify. Oddish reached out to his spores in the alien body and found them weakening; he drew forth the energy it had gained from the moonlight, and recharged them as they ravaged the foe. It responded by giving a high pitched howl and throwing its arms wide.

    Bits of the crystalline meteor heart rose from the ground and began to pelt Oddish. The razor-edged shards slashed at him and he screamed in pain as they shredded his sensitive leaves. The onslaught finally ended and Oddish looked up from the ground to see the enemy looming over him. It had gathered a shard of the cocoon in both its hands, and a wicked grin was all the more unnerving by the Pokemon’s glow.

    Before it could strike, its grin changed to a grimace and the blue aura tinged green. Oddish rolled onto his back and saw the other Oddish approaching, drawing the energy from the foe to restore its own. Seizing the idea, the larger Oddish winced in pain but twitched the ravaged tip of his leaf against the enemy also.

    Having the energy drained from it infuriated the foe, and it gave Oddish a heavy kick that sent him rolling away, but the pair continued to rejuvenate from the foe’s life energy. The enemy screamed again and began gesturing wildly, but instead of calling forth a devastating attack, a heavy rain began pelting the clearing.

    The failure seemed to take the last of the enemy’s will to fight. It grimaced and fell to its knees, the energy glow around it finally fading. It sat in the rain and looked miserable. The two Oddish stared at it warily, but it was a fourth figure that made the next move.

    “You are a long way from home, young Clefable,” a deep voice said. From the trees came a massive waddling pile of bluish vines. The pouring water sluiced off its enormous arms. “These two defended their home and their kin, why would you attack them for such a thing?”

    It looked back at its crystalline pod. “They destroyed my capsule. I needed it to return to the others.”

    The Tangrowth leaned forwards. “But would destroying them bring your capsule back?”

    The Clefable took longer to respond this time. “No. But I was mad they had done this.”

    Tangrowth said nothing at first. It raised its arms and extended several large vines. It gently lay them against each Oddish as well as the Clefable, offering its own energy for their healing. The Clefable returned to health and Oddish feared it would attack again.

    Tangrowth finally spoke. “If you come to the forest as an enemy, even the smallest leaves will rise against you. But if you come as a friend, it has many gifts for sharing.”

    Clefable bowed to Tangrowth. “I see that now.” It turned and approached the Oddish, who took comfort in the presence of Tangrowth’s strong vines. Bowing to him as well, it spoke. “I am sorry for attacking you. “

    The pain had receded from Oddish’ leaves thanks to Tangrowth’s gift of energy. “I am sorry we broke your pod,” he said. “We thought it was going to crash on us.”

    The Clefable returned to the pod wreckage, reaching in and retrieving a strange sphere. It was translucent, with a reddish glow inside that seemed to shift – after the Clefable held the sphere still the glow stabilized and pointed off to the north. It turned to the Tangrowth. “I know the destination, but not the way. Will anyone help me?”

    Oddish felt the Tangrowth’s eyes shift to him, but it said nothing. The other Oddish laid a leaf against his back and smiled at him. The edge of the forest wasn’t far, but the sooner this Clefable was out of the forest, the safer Oddish would feel.

    “We can take you to the edge of the woods,” he said. The rain petered out and he saw his friends around the edge of the clearing, watching. If the Clefable decided to attack again, he knew he wouldn’t be alone.
    Resurrected stats (still under renovation!):

  2. #2
    URPG Staff VeloJello's Avatar
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    Nice story you got there... it would be a shame if no one graded it. So I'll just claim it to keep that from happening!

  3. #3
    URPG Staff VeloJello's Avatar
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    I briefly talked with you about this already, but I read the old version of this and it’s so great to see the way you’ve improved. But this isn’t just a re-skin or an overhaul; with the same concept, you’ve told a whole new story that’s much more engaging and exciting. But it didn’t just magically get that way! You’ve put in plenty of effort and improved off experience and the advice that Nitro gave you, so let’s review the story’s own merits as well as the ways it’s improved.

    First off, congrats on doing the research! I was surprised to see Oddish running around in the night, considering that they’re Grass-types and “should” presumably photosynthesize, but you’ve clearly done your homework here since Oddish’s Dex entries all mention that it loves and thrives on moonlight. This also makes for a more mystical setting - and a set-up for another moon-loving Pokemon we’ll meet later...

    This story opens on sunset over a lush forest, where the flora and fauna (and florafauna, in the case of Oddish) are still very vibrant and awake, unbound by the human expectations of a silent night. You paint a beautiful word-picture in this intro, lavishing vibrant descriptors like “crimson and ochre” and “silvery luminessence”. While there’s no immediate action to pull the reader in, there’s plenty of interesting and vivid descriptions and night Pokemon activity to make the reader curious. When you do get to the conflict - the strange new light in the sky - the main characters have been introduced (the Oddish) and the setting has been described (the night-time forest). The reader is enticed by this beautiful forest and now there’s room for engaging the protagonist and building the conflict.

    Story and Characters.
    The structure of this story is spot-on. There’s an introduction, rising action (the crashing pod), a climax (the battle with Clefable), and a dénoument (seeing Clefable out of the forest). It’s all pretty straightforward and simple, to be sure, but it’s a simplicity that works in your favor as it allows you to zoom in on enticing action and descriptions. You’ve done a much better job here than you did on the first pass. While the first iteration of Meteoric felt like an anecdote, a simple statement of “this happened” that might be interesting but not terribly substantive, this feels like a narrative. It’s not only enjoyable, it’s engaging because the Oddish get directly involved in the events that are unfolding. When the crises of the crashing pod and the enraged Clefable are resolved, these feel earned, and earned resolutions satisfy a reader.

    And what’s a narrative without characters? You had two main ones, Big Oddish and Friend Oddish. You also had an antagonistic Clefable and a helpful Tangrowth. As I mentioned, part of the reason the story is engaging is because the Oddish get directly involved in the situation they’re in. Big Oddish sees something coming from the sky to stop them and steps in, calling urgently for the other Pokemon in the clearing to run, protecting them from the incoming disaster. Friend Oddish steps up and inspires Big Oddish to help him break the meteorite coming for them. By having the Oddishes respond to their situation proactively, you make them more interesting. Very few people want to read about passive observers just making their way through life, after all. The Oddishes’ characters continue to be established as sympathetic and heroic, as Big Oddish risks his life to protect his friend and Friend Oddish encourages him. Showing these Oddishes taking heroic actions made me really engage with and fall in love with these two living shrubs.

    Clefable and Tangrowth were a little bit less fleshed-out, but they both served a purpose to the story with varying levels of success. Obviously, the Clefable is an antagonist - right away, you establish that Clefable is an enemy, attacking the Oddish without giving any sort of warning and continuing to attack even when it might end up killing them. At first, this just seems like generic “strange wild Pokemon is angry” behavior, but Tangrowth’s arrival gives Clefable a chance to reveal the reason for its fury. You show that Clefable isn’t evil or thoughtless, just justifiably upset, and lashing out irrationally as a result of that. This makes Clefable sympathetic without taking away its antagonistic role in the story - after all, it opposed our protagonists in the strongest way possible, whether its reasons were legitimate or not. Clefable also plays into the moon theme that the Oddish and full moon overhead establish, which is neat. Motifs and themes help unify a story, and the running moon motif here is no exception. Clefable also feels alien not just because it crashed out of the sky, but because of its wide array of attacks that have no business being used by anything in the Oddishes’ forest.

    Tangrowth, admittedly, kind of felt like it came out of nowhere. It served a narrative purpose in helping to resolve the conflict between Oddish and Clefable, but it showed up to do this without any manner of foreshadowing or forewarning. My suspension of disbelief is a bit strained by Tangrowth as well. After all, if a big, strong, levelheaded Tangrowth was close enough to know that the Oddish were the ones who destroyed Clefable’s pod, why didn’t it help the Oddish at any point - particularly when Friend Oddish is mentioned to be near death? I’m not saying that you should have had it there during the fight; quite the opposite, actually. Tangrowth’s existence doesn’t do terrible harm to the story, but I believe that Tangrowth could be removed. There wouldn’t be the strange limbo of Tangrowth either knowing things it shouldn’t or not intervening when the Oddish are severely wounded. It also would have allowed the two Oddish to talk things out with Clefable on their own, rather than having a third party bail them out of a situation they could have most likely could have solved themselves. This isn’t a huge flaw since the Oddishes have already demonstrated plenty of proactivity, but when you’re thinking of adding characters to short, compact stories like this, you might be better off thinking of ways for your preexisting cast to solve problems so that they can really shine.

    Style and Grammar.
    Like I mentioned in the Introduction section, there are some really good descriptors in this story. Throughout, you use strong descriptive language to reinforce your points. When Clefable is angry, its face contorts. The water that Clefable attacks with is a torrent that scours the forest. Strong verbs like this really help emphasize the action as it happens. Throughout the story, I was able to clearly picture the action and the Pokemon involved in it. The fact that the Oddishes have visible injuries and are observably upset works alongside the descriptions of their fear and pain, really helping to sell the reader on the fact that exciting, dramatic action is happening.

    It wasn’t everywhere, but there were a few uncomfortably-built sentences. As an example:
    He saw shallow breathing and knew the other lived, but would have to stop this strange enemy before it killed them both.

    The natural reading here is that “the other lived and would have to stop this strange enemy…”, even though “the other” is not the one who would have to stop the strange enemy. “He knew the other lived, but also that he would have to stop this strange enemy…” would be one way to rearrange this particular sentence so that the reader progresses through it more naturally. You also bounce between which Oddish - Big Oddish or Friend Oddish - is referred to as “the other Oddish” and which one is referred to as simply “the Oddish”. When writing, bear in mind that while readers are smart and able to fill in gaps, we still rely on authors to tell us what’s going on and we can get confused when the authors’ descriptions are inconsistent or ambiguous. Taking better care to distinguish between your two protagonists would be helpful. Another thing that could help out is just giving the Oddishes names or different genders from each other; having names would be very helpful here. Or, if you don’t want to figure out what in the world sort of names a bunch of plant monsters would have, a “she” Oddish and a “he” Oddish would be a big advantage because the pronoun switch would tip the reader off as to which Oddish you’re discussing.

    Dialogue! There was a fair bit of it in this story. I’m going to dive into semantics for a moment and define a few terms for use in this little rant. “Content” is the message that a piece of dialogue is trying to deliver. “Voice” is the manner in which a piece of dialogue is delivered. “Aw beans, the roof is on fire,” and “Sweet mother of Moses, the roof’s burning!” both contain the same content - they both convey that there is a roof, and that roof is engulfed in flames. However, they both have different voice. The first speaker is either being sarcastic or is completely unconcerned; the second speaker is probably a southerner really worried about the roof being on fire. While the content of your dialogue is good, and conveys what it needs to convey, I feel that you could stand to work on voice. With a short story like this, you want everything at your disposal to convey your characters to the reader. Actions speak louder than words, but the way a character speaks tells you a lot about them. As-is, your characters all seem to speak with roughly the same voice - clean, frank language with no contractions. This is a good speech style for a character of Tangrowth’s archetype (a powerful, calm authority figure who arrives to ease conflict) but not necessarily for the Oddishes, who just got scared witless, or Clefable, who’s literally an alien. The best advice I can give you here is to remember that your characters are all their own separate, self-contained entities. They will all react differently to different situations, and they’ll all speak differently, and their speech will be affected by their emotions. This is another one of those “little touches” situations. Things like having the Oddishes stutter, stammer, and use contractions would reinforce that they’re scared and tuckered out from their big battle. Having the Clefable sputter a bit or direct a jibe at the Oddishes before Tangrowth gives its mini-lecture would reinforce the fact that it’s angry far better than just having it say that it’s angry. “They almost killed me!” or “All of my pod’s resources were wasted because of a couple paranoid plants,” gets across that Clefable was mad about the capsule just as well as Clefable outright saying it. It’s also more true-to-life, as most people don’t really go around saying they’re mad/afraid/sad/happy, but instead saying and doing things that indicate these emotions. When you’re writing, think about how these sentences would sound if spoken aloud, and how different characters might express themselves in different ways.

    10,191 characters! Oddish is a Simple rank Pokemon, so you’re juuust above the 5k character minimum for each Oddish, but I’m not going to snipe at you for character count alone. I don’t think this story needs to be much longer or shorter. It had a slightly open ending, but a good one; we, the readers, don’t need to follow the party to the edge of the woods, because based on the story’s tone and Clefable’s contrition we know that this is almost certainly going to end peaceably for everyone. TL;DR, there didn’t need to be any more here and what is here is key to the story, so well-done for sure.

    For Simple rank, I have no complaints. Your story meets the minimum length, the grammar is clean, and there is a clear and well-executed plot with action made interesting by strong descriptive language. Two Oddishes captured. Most of the advice I have for you isn’t “fix the story because it’s broken”; it’s “this is what you can do to advance your storytelling to the next level”. Based on the improvement I’ve seen between the two incarnations of Meteoric, I can say with certainty that you’re leveling up, and I’m confident in your ability to continue to do so. Keep painting wonderful word pictures, be mindful of how your sentence structure - for both dialogue and description alike - can influence the reader’s perceptions, and enjoy your Oddishes.

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