The Weekly Review - Edition 19
A What’s New Section giving the latest info on the Forums!
An Article exploring the challenges of writing!
An Interview of the fantastic site member Mizal!
A Review of the great Edutainment Story Mutiny on the Bounty!
A Short Story by the fantastic site member Mizal!
A Special Section on Comedy and a Brand New Special Section!
- In Newbie Central newcomers JakeIovry and zaqx39 introduce their fantastic selves to the site.
- In the Lounge Chris 113002 celebrates his 15th Birthday to the warm congratulations of his friends and admirers.
- In News and Updates discussion continues over whether or not there will be a November or December follow-up to Bucky’s October Co-author Spooky Story Contest.
- In the Parlour Room Briar_Rose’s thread about interesting comments left on story-games continues with the latest thoughts of the more eccentric visitors to this site.
- In Forum Games Zaghero’s Land of Fiends seems the most active of the currently active forum games.
- In the Writing Workshop EndMaster’s thread on his new upcoming story Rogues gets necromanced.
- In the Reading Corner EbonVasilis looks for fellow fans of the author Orson Scott Card.
- In the Advanced Editor Forum Forepaw raises the interesting question of how to add a background to the page of a published story.
- In the Feature Wishing Well JakeIvory asks for betting games on the site.
- In Bugs and Problems Ugilick points out an error with the Enter Key rerouting to the top of the page instead of the bottom (happens to me too actually… has anyone else noticed this problem?)
Featured Article – Why is it so difficult to write a story?
Following the interesting turnout of Bucky’s Halloween Contest, where a dozen teams or so signed up to take part but only two managed to submit stories by the deadline, I found myself wondering why so many didn’t finish their stories. Real life of course gets in the way of writing and there are a million and one distractions on the Internet but still, what is so challenging about writing a little Halloween story? Actually, as it turns out, these stories are not as easy to write as they appear.
First there is the time commitment necessary, not only to find the actual time to write, but the time to get in “the writing zone” for the often-lengthy amount of time necessary to write a story. For me personally I need to be free from all other distractions and this means I need at least four or five essentially uninterrupted days of continuous writing to churn out something half-decent, if I was just writing when I was in the right frame of mind in the evenings it would (and does) take me months to produce anything. Then of course there is the motivation: after a hard day at work and school it takes an idea we’re REALLY enthusiastic about to make us want to do MORE writing about it.
Then there is the perfectionism, the fear of showing writing to a potentially hostile (and occasionally ruthless) audience of Internet strangers. It seems possible that the way crap stories get ridiculed for fun by the whole community, including me, on this site may very well be terrifying potential authors into silence. On the flip side of the coin that also means those stories that get published are very likely to be those one hour, part 1 of chapter 1 pieces of garbage that appear because the more disciplined authors who have actually spent time on their work are too cautious of publishing. Yes, people might say “this is the internet and you should be prepared for criticism” but some people don’t want criticism in any form so they withhold their often very good stories.
There may be other factors exclusive to Bucky’s competition explaining the lack of stories. It might be the theme or genre. It might be the idea of having to co-author with another person, something the vast majority of us never do. It might be the futility of entering any competition with so many good authors in it making success very unlikely (if I’m honest that was the main reason I preferred not to enter). There are so many other factors as well: writer’s block, personal reasons, a bad co-author etc.
With hindsight it’s easy to see why so few good story-games are published overall, especially in a competition where people could only publish good story-games anyway or they’d have no chance of winning and if it’s not good they feel they might as well publish nothing (as happened) – good stories take time as EndMaster or Steve25833 will agree (I’m fairly sure for example Ground Zero wasn’t written in a day). This require setting yourself personal goals and meeting them – it’s easy to trash the bad stories of other people but many of the people who do this have repeatedly tried and failed to write and publish a completed story themselves. Sometimes it’s good to set yourself a challenge once in a while and try doing something difficult, unpleasant and challenging like writing a story.
You might even surprise yourself by the quality of what you create and if it is not good then at least you tried.
Featured Interview - Introducing Mizal
A prolific and thorough reviewer, a constant and positive presence on the Forums and a pretty awesome person generally you are all familiar with Mizal, one of the many key members who help make this site what it is. Here she provides some interesting answers and opinions in this interview:
Q: What first got you interested in joining the site and how have you found it since you have been here?
A: It's hard to believe it's been over five years, but I first came over here from (the now more or less defunct) Infinite Story after Endmaster suggested it. I put up about 50 pages of an in progress story and even though it was one of those dreaded 'part one' things I was pretty happy with the amount of feedback. But with the forums before the rules change and freeform games/WC purge being like the secret hidden mine shaft under the basement only accessed through the secret trapdoor found while scraping layers of slime away from the bottom of the barrel, at the time I wasn't too involved with the community.
It was actually Briar's Price of Freedom being put in the Spring Thing that made me go 'oh yeah, I remember that site!' after a long hiatus and got me lurking more regularly and tinkering with scripting again.
Q: Who are your favourite people on the site and how do you feel the different members contribute to the site as a whole (i.e. writers, forum posters, forum gamers etc)?
A: Endmaster, Steve, and of course you are obviously the big three when it comes to the site's major contributors, but I pretty much feel like anyone with a serious interest in writing or discussing writing--be it their own or another author's--is a valuable addition to the site. Seto for instance has contributed a lot with some detailed reviews lately, and I've noticed a few others who aren't active on the forums leaving some pretty solid feedback too.
Forum games...haha. I think I've been pretty blunt about my feelings on that board elsewhere, though I'll allow that section used to be much, much worse.
A lot of people go through a forum RP phase of course...usually followed by the 'Augh, why didn't I use my free time more productively while I still had so much of it' phase a few years later, lol. It's the textual equivalent of tasty but ultimately unsatisfying sugary junk food, and has this kind of insidious way of scratching the creative writing itch and using up tons and tons of time without leaving you anything to show for it in the way of actual writing, or pushing yourself creatively.
Q: What did you think of the recent Halloween competition?
A: May the failures stew in the dark steaming pit of their own SHAME for a thousand years.
The final turnout was disappointing, but I guess not wholly unexpected. (There are only a small number of authors who could be reliably expected to be capable of turning out a finished story within the time limit in the first place, and the co-author requirement halved that, fun as it sounded on paper...) It did inspire the creation of a couple of quality stories that otherwise wouldn't have been made, however, so kudos to Bucky for that.
Q: If there is a future competition around Christmas time would you be interested in joining?
A: I have a feeling it's going to be the same as the October one where it /sounds/ good, and I hope it gets lots of entrants, but personally I may have to restrain myself with the reminder I'll be having RL responsibilities in addition to working on the WIPs I'm aiming to finish. Getting a cool idea and starting yet another new project is my eternal weakness and one I'm trying to be a bit more vigilant against.
Q: You are a very thorough reviewer, what are the most important pieces of advice you would share with new authors?
A: I'm a very JADED reviewer who over the years has had all compassion for lazy writers sandblasted away. If there was one piece of advice I wish I could get newbies here to follow it would be to write and write to their heart's content, but don't /publish/ unless they can honestly say their story represents their best efforts, and certainly don't publish within the first few days of joining the site. (It always baffles and amazes me that someone can read books IRL, read top rated stories here, and then turn and look at their own uh, "creatively punctuated" masterpiece they worked on for all of ten minutes and not see a difference...)
Q: What are your favourite and least favourite things about the site?
A: My... (excuse me while I take a moment to strip out the excess U's.. :P) /favorite/ thing is definitely the laid back attitude of the admins and free atmosphere of the forums. Even if that freedom is often used to post things that make me want to bang my head against the desk, lol...it's okay because then I'm free to go and tell them that! Heavy handed censorship and powertripping admins have been a serious problem at sites I've previously been involved in and so it's refreshing that CYS admins takes the laissez faire, while still stepping in to clear out the zero-content stuff and other white noise.
I also think that with so many younger members here from so many different backgrounds, it's hugely valuable that when arguments do pop up, they're given room to articulate their views and then have a chance to defend their points when people disagree with them. Debate skills and critical thinking are just one more thing these pitiable children could stand to hone.
My least favorite thing, would be the fact the admins are all stuck sailing a ship constructed of slices of Swiss cheese and held together by dental floss and gum. There are too many broken things and weird janky design decisions going on with the site (the struggle to add new articles and inability to delete the old being a good example) and I'm always concerned they'll become serious issues no one is able to do anything about.
Q: Do you have any plans to write any story games in the future?
A: Plans? Always. Actually pulling it off? Well, we'll see. :D
I recently took a torch to most of my old writing and projects I didn't see going anywhere, while wallowing in tragic and beautiful artistic despair. With a clean slate now and having done some serious restructuring of my writing habits and getting more organized and detailed with my outlines, I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about this. There's a smallish project I'm wanting to have out before the end of November and a slightly more ambitious one I'm aiming to finish by New Years.
Q: There is a strong community feeling among certain members such as yourself, Axiom and Bucky who all met on a previous forum. Do you think this group of extremely talented individuals will have a key role to play in the future of CYS?
A: Axiom and iavatus I brought over from another site, but Bucky is a native CYStian (to his eternal shame...)
These people are all shameful slackers who will never amount to anything and should be ignored.
Q: What has been the most funny (intentionally or unintentionally) thing to happen to you recently?
A: My immune system has apparently gone on strike and so I've been dragging myself around and to work and back with some miserable illness for most of the week. My life is drudgery and despair. The only dim ray of amusement will come with the sweet release of death. (It doesn't have to be mine. It can definitely be someone else's.)
Q: Finally are there any last words you would like to share?
A: Uh. Should I say something about the Cubs? Are people still excited about that? People seemed excited about that. So uh, WOOOO, go Cubs! You sure...obtained greater mastery over your balls...than your opponents...in the...sports game you were playing. Good job!
Featured Review: Mutiny on board the Bounty, an Edutainment by Wonko_the_Sane (Published 2008)
This little gem by a pretty talented author tells the true story of John Adams, the mutineer who became the patriarch of a tropical paradise filled with women. As this story stays true to the facts it suffers from the drawback that all these stories do in that you can’t change history, only partake in it. That said it tells a swashbuckling adventure in an entertaining way with a genuine range of choices.
Part of my fascination with this story arises from the fact I want to write an identical one but this one is already good enough that another on the same topic would be unnecessary; this one already has top-notch writing with few spelling errors and colourful imagery. A slight over-use of dates, a few minor historical errors and an annoying number of choice-less pages do weaken the story but what is left is an above-average entertaining read in which the reader can learn about an interesting story and spend ten minutes in a fun way.
This story deserves its 5/8 rating and at solid 4/8’s all round except or its 5/8 rating this is a good example of a fun time-filling Edutainment story and one that I’d recommend to anyone wanting a taste of my favourite genre…
Featured Short Story – A Short Story by Mizal
To read Part One please click this link to Edition 17 of The Weekly Review:
A spyglass brought the scene into sharper focus, revealing, not birds, but half a dozen creatures nearer in size and build to Havasa herself, with brown hair and bronze skin. The faces were startlingly human, though the same couldn’t be said for the abominable shrieking that could now be heard as the ship flew closer. Their bodies were bare but for scales that started at the knees and ran down to wickedly taloned feet, and abnormally long arms fused with brown-feathered wings ended similarly in grasping claws.
While she’d never directly encountered such creatures before, she recognized them instantly from other sailors’ tales. “Bah! Bloody harpies.”
If the ship stayed the course, she’d be passing within a stone’s throw of the wheeling savages. From what she’d heard of their temperament, they could be territorial and had been known to target shipwrecked sailors, but were mostly scavengers, limited to quick snatch and grab attempts at the weak or injured. She doubted they’d hold their ground at the ship’s advance. After all, it wasn’t as if she were vulnerable down there on the beach like…hmm, come to think of it, what was that down there?
A quick readjustment of her spyglass, for a moment, left her none the wiser. From this angle, brilliant green wings--one trailing awkwardly as if strained or broken--and the crested head with its curved beak at first gave her a confused impression of some massive tropical bird. It was only when a diving harpy sent it rolling backwards and scrambling to its feet again that she saw the cat-like body with it’s reddish gold fur dappled in black. Some manner of gryphon then, and every Greatwater sailor was familiar with those, though with its small size and bright coloring, this was some strange and exotic variety Havasa she’d never seen or heard of before. “Huh. Wonder what that thing’d be worth?”
The ship was approaching close enough now that, on impulse, Havasa grabbed for a match and went to one of the cannons facing the direction of the island. With a deafening BOOM and a white puff of smoke, a load of grapeshot tore through the midst of the harpies and clattered against a cliff, the stony surface sending up a dust cloud of its own in response. The timing was a bit off, and the harpies too far apart to take much damage, but she hadn’t been trying especially hard to hit them. Two plummeted halfway to the ground, recovered themselves, and veered off suddenly to somewhere out of sight, blood streaming from what appeared to be glancing blows. The remaining four let loose with a cacophony of piercing shrieks and flew about erratically, two nearly colliding in mid-air, and that was enough. Just before firing, Havasa had ordered the sails to adjust the ship’s course a degree or two, and with the harpies panicked and distracted, there was nothing to stop her from shaking a rope ladder loose and swinging over the side. Along with the knives she’d always carried, a loaded crossbow and a rolled net slung over her shoulder completed her hastily assembled gryphon-catching, harpy-repellent kit.
As she climbed downwards, the crossbow banged against her hip, annoyingly, then got snagged somehow in one of the rope rungs, jerking her to a halt and stubbornly refusing to be loosed until she was obligated to unhook the weapon from her belt with a disgusted sigh and leave it dangling from the ladder. “Go on then! Have it your way. Flotsam, you are.” She didn’t need that crossbow anyhow. That crossbow was a bastard, and its mother was a whore.
Descending the rest of the way in a hurry, mindful of harpies perched and watching her now from the nearby cliffs, while another had turned its attention again to the little gryphon and was hopping about and making short experimental lunges at it nearby. Probably owing to experiences with Greatwater’s much larger native gryphons more than anything, it seemed hesitant to directly attack.
“Feh! Out of here! Get on with you!” Havasa barked, scooping up a handful of pebbles and scree and flinging them at the harpy by way of encouragement. “Come along now, half pint. Let’s get you clear of these wretches,” she added in a friendlier tone, eying her prize a moment as she unfurled the net and then pouncing, bundling the gryphon securely so that it couldn’t claw her or flap its wings too distractingly. Taking up the remainder of the net, she twisted and tied it into a kind of sling and wrapped it around herself, gryphon and all, so that the animal hung across her back. Not counting the wings, it felt like lifting a medium sized dog, though somewhat lighter on account of the hollow bones. Nothing she couldn’t haul up a ladder, and so as soon as the impromptu sling was secured she grabbed the nearest rung and started doing just that.
The ship couldn’t go drifting off on its own, else she never would’ve attempted this, but with what she knew of the magic, the way it all worked…she’d not fully relax till she was back on deck and fully in command again. About the same time that thought crossed her mind, something made her glance up, and see the outstretched claws of the harpy dropping straight down toward her. Swearing and twisting hard to the left, she felt the wind from the creature’s momentum rush by her as it narrowly missed. Right, so there were going to be those things to contend with too. Getting back up on the deck would be a good thing all around, yes indeed. Below her, the harpy spread its wings and banked sharply, gliding just above the ground in a wide circle and then angling itself back upwards.
In no mood to wait about admiring the aerial maneuvering, Havasa climbed fast, heedless of the spinning and swaying of the ladder. The gryphon, for its part, remained remarkably docile, which must be the luck of Nyanda because she hadn’t thought any of this through at all and the harpy was enough to concern herself with without a squawking, flailing catbird shredding her back. Though she supposed she could always just work the net loose and drop the thing if it came to it, as much of a waste as that would be.
Meanwhile, the harpy itself had circled up and completely around again, and apparently decided to make one more go of things. Tilting her head, Havasa could see that bastard whoreson of a crossbow dangling tantalizingly just a short ways further up the ladder, and clambered towards with everything she had. Her movements jostled the gryphon a bit roughly but it still didn’t really make a fuss and this was great, she hadn’t expected it to be so tame. She could make a mint selling it for a fine ladies’ pet, Havasa thought, grabbing at the crossbow and letting the natural spinning of the rope carry her around to an angle she could get a shot off from as, above and to her right, the harpy let out a screech, folded its wings behind itself and fell face first into a dive.
A squeeze of the trigger, and the bolt sailed smoothly--
--past the harpy and embedded itself in a crevasse of the cliff.
“Bloody hell!” Havasa shouted.
“You missed!” the gryphon exclaimed, helpfully.
“By the Spirits, you can talk?”
She hadn’t expected a talking gryphon at all, and that would certainly make it fetch a princely sum at a circus or perhaps a-- Havasa paused that thought, applied all her strength to yanking the snagged crossbow free of the rope. Some finicky bit of iron snapped off in the process, but she no longer really needed it after whanging the weapon across the face of the diving harpy an instant before it struck; she felt the wood splinter in her hands from the force of the impact and let the broken pieces fall. There was an angry squawk and a confused moment of flapping and feathers, during which the barest end of a talon drew a line across her cheek, and then the creature was gone.
Hauling herself up the last couple meters of rope and then huffing and puffing over the ship’s railing, she lifted the net free of her shoulders and dropped her new talking gryphon on the deck. “Whew! Hell of a climb.”
“Thank you, thank you so much for rescuing me! I thought those things were going to tear me apart!” the gryphon babbled, with a worshipful gaze. His eyes were just a shade paler than his bright, glossy green wings, and having a closer look now she noticed narrow streaks of peacock blue layered in among his feathers.
“And you’re still talkin’, are you? Fancy that.” Tugging a cloth from her pocket and wiping her face, Havasa grimaced a bit as she tried to staunch the bleeding there. The slash was hardly more than a scratch, but as she recalled, harpy claws were so filthy, wounds they inflicted tended to fester.
Retrieving a bottle of bourbon from a crate, she took two swigs for herself and then dabbed a few drops onto the wound, screwing her face up in earnest now as what felt like that entire half of it shrieked in silent protest at the injustice of a world where booze could hurt and the cure was so much worse than the cut.
The gryphon was doing that speaking trick again. “Um, you…you’ve got company still.”
“Over there, by those barrels.”
Havasa looked and saw a crouching form and a mess of brown feathers. “Ah, I see. Much obliged.” At her voice, the creature curled back its lips and hissed, long yellow canines visible behind the matted hair that hung over much of its face.
Standing with her two feet once again planted firmly on the deck--even a deck that was part of a ship flying high through the air--did wonders for Havasa’s confidence. Drawing her knife and turning to address the harpy now, she added, “And now as for you, want some more, d’you?”
To be continued next week…
Special Section – Jokes and Quotes
This is a site mainly for reading and writing so today I thought I’d share a few of my favourite one-liners about authors and writing in general:
“I hope I write something one day worth plagiarizing.” – Unknown Author.
“I’ve written a few children’s books. Not on purpose.” – Steven Wright.
“If the English Language made any sense lackadaisical would have something to do with a shortage of flowers.” – Doug Larsen.
“Real seriousness in regard to writing is one of two absolute necessities. The other, unfortunately, is talent. – Ernest Hemingway.
“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard.” – John Steinbeck.
“Asking a writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.” – Christopher Hampton.
“As far as I’m concerned “whom” is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.” – Calvin Trillin.
“Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for writing a book.” – Fran Lebowitz.
“Your work is both good and original but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.” – Samuel Johnson to an aspiring author.
“Thank you for your manuscript. I shall waste no time in reading it.” – Horace Walpole’s wonderfully ambiguous answer to aspiring authors who sent him their works seeking patronage and one that I like to send to people who send me unrequested stuff.
“Only Kings, Presidents, Editors and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial “we”.” – Mark Train.
“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, then for a few close friends and then for the money.” – Ashish Chauhan.
“Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.” – Unknown Author.
Special Section – Reader’s Section
This is a new Section where I invite YOU the reader to submit ideas or opinions about a specific topic. Following on from the Comedy Section I want to ask you:
WHAT FUNNY JOKES OR QUOTES HAVE YOU HEARD LATELY?
The best responses will be copied, pasted and published in the Review next week and the contributors named so if you have heard any funny Jokes or Quotes lately please post them in this Thread!
Idea by Jaystarcat, Article, Interview, Review, Special Sections and What’s New by Will11, Short Story by Mizal and Special Thanks to Mizal for the interview this week.
Finally, thank you to you, the Reader, for taking the time to read this Review.
"In Forum Games Zaghero's Land of Fiends seems the most acti--"
Nope. No, no, no.
This review is quite hilarious, so you accomplished something there.
If CYS were a classroom, Forum Games would be the retard who eats his own shit and bum-rushes the teacher. Nobody except for you and your crayon-eating comrades actually care about whether it's accurately reported on.
Aye, don't edit this post.
Good. Now that's done with, you should relax with the insults. Take a deep breath, little boy.
I guess I'm the crossover type. I've only participated in two RPs here, one was 3J's which I thought was interesting, and the other one was a Once Upon the Time type, which seeing as how I made a Cheshire Cat character a few days before I joined that RP, I thought I would like to get a feel of his personality by doing that RP. Otherwise, I don't pay much attention as the RPs here since they are...much lower quality than the RPs I'm used to.
And oh. I didn't know Derp had a forum for RPing. Or maybe I do. Come to think of it, I vaguely remember seeing something about it...T-T
I don't really see the appeal in most of the threads here either, so I guess that makes two of us(at least).
When I rp, I usually do at least 2-3 paragraphs at the very least, though my replies tend to depend on the length of my partner's reply. I usually do not do semi-lit rps or the script-style rps(which, in my opinion are very lazy...I mean, I know people need a place to start but...>~<)
Anyways...If there's not much to build my reply on, and I can't control much; I can't really have a long reply...which is why the RPs here don't really appeal to me much.
I never saw the continuing story thing, so I don't know about that...but I have participated in one of 3J's, and I can say that one was very well setup and fun...it's just too bad it died off, and I'm also kind of disappointed I missed some of his other ones since I keep hearing about them.
Edit: Also, just noticed that this sentence somehow changed...
*Otherwise, I don't pay much attention to the RPs here since they are...much lower quality than the RPs I'm used to.
Those other sites aren't as active and they also lack at having any storygames on it.
Haha sorry about that Thara, I should rephrase that to "the highest number of posts". Perhaps an Article advocating the wonderful world of forum games by someone who plays them might be useful for the next edition... I have to confess I hardly ever go into them :)
Understandable. It's fine, Will :) It's not like I'm truly offended or anything. But an article you say? Hmm, it sounds quite tempting to make, especially since like all of the other articles, it's a bit dated.
Anyway, congratulations on putting out another review. Your consistency is truly worthy of much admiration.
Please continue this, Will. I absolutely adore these. My favorite section is actually the interview. I find them quite entertaining and am always interested in what this site's distinguished users have to say in them.
Oh I like that idea
It's an interesting idea...
These really are amazing. I thoroughly enjoy reading them. Keep up the great editions.
I thought you were alt guy, you had like 50.
Recent wrong-doings? The Lounge has already got a pretty massive record of those already I guess :D