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Old 12-10-2010, 11:07 PM
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Elrond Offline
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Default Re: Hand-Me-Down Shoes [ready for grade]

Introduction:

Whoa, info overload. It’s always good to have some description of who the main character is, what they look like, etc. but this was a lot more than necessary. I could have cut out the first 3000 characters or so, and the plot wouldn’t have lost a thing. Let’s look at this paragraph in particular:

Quote:
Jimmy had his own Pokémon, of which he was very proud, for he had caught it himself the previous Summer. Of course, nearly everyone in the town had a Pokémon or two, for their own protection or to help out with their jobs, and no one really thought much of it except Jimmy. He'd found the Rattata stealing seed corn from Farmer Jensen's barn, shortly before it was badly injured by the Skitty that was kept on the premises for the very purpose of keeping the pests away. Jimmy, coming across it lying on its side and bleeding, had taken it home and nursed it back to health, naming it Tartufo somewhere along the way.
The thing is, the only information this paragraph conveys that is really necessary to the plot is the fact that Jimmy has a Rattata. But you introduced this in the very next paragraph, where you mentioned that Tartufo was hopping along by Jimmy’s side. That’s much better than straight-out just saying he has a Rattata, because there’s action involved and you still get the added benefit of conveying the important information.

The information about how Jimmy found Rattata is in a sort of grey area. It helps to explain why Rattata reacts with such fear towards Sebastian. However, is that explanation really necessary? I mean, just leaving it to the reader to assume a rat Pokémon would be scared of a cat Pokémon doesn’t take anything away from the plot, does it? No, not really. So in essence, this paragraph could have been totally absent from the story and the plot would still have made perfect sense.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t feel as though your reader needs to know every little detail about your characters. You should know these sorts of these things, so you can tailor your characters’ actions to their personalities, which your reader will infer from those actions. Your introduction should start with action – and I don’t mean a big explosion or something like that, but someone needs to be doing something. You can convey any necessary information through those actions, like my example with Rattata hopping next to Jimmy, which is both an action and introduces an important fact.

Extraneous information isn’t always a purely negative thing, but it rarely adds anything to the story, and should therefore be avoided in large quantities.

Story/Plot:

The plot of this story was fairly bland. Jimmy learns something’s been stealing from the farm, so he goes and finds them, the end. I also don’t really understand how hand-me-down shoes have anything to do with the plot.

For your first story, this wasn’t too bad. There are a few things I would suggest you think about in writing your next story. For example, think about how you can create a character that ties into the plot more deeply. Jimmy was a fairly under-developed character. You gave me a lot of information about him and his family, but none of that really makes a difference to the plot. In the introduction section of this grade, I mentioned that you should know your character’s personalities and life stories so that information can guide your character’s actions. Well, those actions should move the plot forward. In this story, a bunch of things just seemed to happen, and Jimmy went along for the ride. Any trainer in the same situation probably would have reacted the same way and gone looking for the Pokémon. Any unique personality traits Jimmy has don’t seem to influence his actions at all.

Description/Detail:

I talked a little about telling vs. showing in my paragraph about your introduction, but that advice really does only apply to the intro. Once you got into the plot, your description improved and you did more showing than telling. I do have one example of your writing I’d like you to take a look at, just to show you one way you could improve.

Quote:
He was of good size, and a year's worth of table scraps had left his purple fur silky and shining and his face alert and friendly.
I’m mostly concerned with the bolded part. You see, “he was of good size” is incredibly vague. What’s “good?” I could interpret as meaning he was skinny, because having a fat Rattata would be bad, or I could interpret it as meaning he was average, or I could interpret it as meaning he was a little on the chubby side. Based on context, because you talked about table scraps, I’m guessing the latter is correct. It would therefore be better if you had said something like, “He was plump from a year’s worth of table scraps that had left his purple fur silky… etc.” The adjective “plump” is much more specific and allows me to immediately know what you mean.

Grammar/Style:

If I get nitpicky at all, just know that I don’t grade down for grammar unless there’s a serious issue, which there wasn’t. I want you to see some examples of ways you can improve your writing, but don’t get bogged down in this section.

Quote:
This was generally a plight for him, which sort of came with the fact that he had four older brothers and all of their clothes were passed down to him.
First of all, the word “generally” is unnecessary in the first part of the sentence. Think about it. If you take out that word, does the meaning of the sentence change at all? No, especially since the word “plight” implies that this is a continuous problem anyway. Secondly, the phrase “which sort of came with the fact that he had…” is terribly wordy. Try something simple like “because he had…” The sentence would still have the same meaning, and it would no longer be a mouthful.

Quote:
Tartufo,stunned and a bit behind Jimmy, dashed into the fray, letting out a noise like a gaggle of geese as his tail rose and he hit the Poochyena full force with a tackle.
I noticed you use the word “stunned” a lot. But here’s the thing: “stunned” means that the thing isn’t able to move – so how could Tartufo be dashing into the fray while he’s stunned? If he dashed after he was done being stunned, the sentence should have gone something like this: “Tartufo stood stunned, a bit behind Jimmy, then dashed into the fray…”

Quote:
Suddenly, a high, strangled scream ripped through the air and Sebastian suddenly appeared on the other side of the Poochyena…
First of all, if something was being strangled, it certainly couldn’t scream with any kind of force. Secondly, you repeated the word “suddenly” here, which isn’t great stylistically.

Quote:
At that moment, the Razor Winds were both unleashed…
Ew, passive voice. When you use the passive voice, the subject is having something done to it. In this case, the Razor Winds were unleashed by something else. A lot of writers use the passive voice because they want to keep the doer of the action (in this case, the person who unleashed the attacks) ambiguous, but it just doesn’t sound right. When you write, you should strive to use the active voice, in which the subject of a sentence is doing the action. Rewriting this sentence in the active voice would leave you with something like this: “At that moment, Buizel unleashed both Razor Winds…” See, the subject of the sentence is now the one who is doing the action (Buizel), rather than the thing receiving the action (the Razor Winds).

Quote:
It seemed, then, that Poochyena had the upper hand with her superior size and weight, but what Jimmy did not know was that, earlier, when Sebastian had cuffed her across the face, the blow had slashed her nose, which was now blocked by her own blood.
Here’s another example of where you became a little wordy. “…but Jimmy did not know that…” makes perfect sense and doesn’t sound awkward. Watch out for places like this. Less is often more, as long as the sentence still makes sense.

Length:

29995. More than enough.

Battle:

The battle was more than a third of the story’s length, which I’d say is pretty fair for a story like this. I thought it was well done, with plenty of action and variety of moves. That’s… it, basically.

Outcome:

For a first story, this was a solid attempt, so both Pokemon captured. Try to work on a little more creative plot for next time, and also don’t introduce your story with lots of little details about your character that the reader doesn’t need to know. Those can come later; putting them near the beginning is just gonna make the reader go find something else to read. Congrats. :)
__________________

Quote:
SotaOMG (10:05:46 PM): i think stunky is sexy
iamnotyou11 (10:05:54 PM): Soda stop being gay
supermonkey07@cox.net (10:06:03 PM): ironic statement?
<URPG>
I can probably take some grading requests now. But don't all rush me at once. :/

Last edited by Elrond; 01-05-2011 at 10:21 PM.
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