29th July 2011, 06:00 AM #1
Dog Obedience 101 (Ready for grading).
Pokémon being captured: Growlithe.
Characters required: 10k - 20k.
Actual characters: 11,853.
Yeah, I guess this story seems kind of... meh. I shortened it down from what I had originally planned it to be like, but I suppose it seems relatively okay for a Medium 'mon.
You were appealing.
A ball of orange fur was curled up beside its mother: a large, dominant creature. It was just waking up from its nap, and stretched its body out, sprawled down the large rug, which was used as a bed for the two. The mother looked down at her son, licking his head as gently as she could to clean him off. The younger creature, fluffy and youthful, looked up trustingly at his mother. Black stripes coursed down some parts of its body, and it yawned, opening its mouth wide to reveal a red tongue and sharp white teeth which hadn’t quite developed fully yet.
Who knew you’d turn out to be so destructive?
“He’s so cute!” said a young girl, pointing towards a large, powerful creature and her child. The puppy was playing at his mother’s feet, wrestling with a ball. He chewed on the small sphere thoroughly, eventually reducing it to nothing. After finishing off the ball, he rolled on his back, looking at the little girl who was staring at him with something resembling admiration. Her eyes glinted in the artificial light of the adoption centre - for that was what it was, an adoption centre located in Vermillion City. These two Pokémon were nothing more than creatures up for adoption, seeing as their previous masters had abandoned them. The mother was an Arcanine, a Fire-type dog, whose muscles rippled as she moved, although she seemingly handled her pup gently, despite all that mass being able to easily crush a little girl like her. The girl was dressed in a dainty grey pinafore, and her hair was tied up in two ponytails which protruded out from her head. Her face was angular, yet cheerful and unlined. Her eyes were a grey colour to match her dress, and they were just as trusting as the milky brown of Growlithe’s.
She knelt down beside the puppy, who was still on his back. She placed one hand on the Pokémon’s belly - the mother seemed to be watching her carefully - and started rubbing it up and down. She could tell that Growlithe enjoyed it a lot, as he was pawing at the air and making a low growl in the back of his throat, one that was not threatening but in fact contented. She continued to do this for a couple of minutes, the Growlithe’s mass of fluffy fur feeling very warm under her small hands. His mother had laid her head on her paws at this stage, now comfortable enough with the human touching her offspring. This was her sign of approval, and the young girl nodded her head at the Arcanine, her expression showing one of gratitude. She stopped rubbing the Growlithe’s belly, and he looked up in confusion.
“Can I have him? Please?” the little girl asked her father, who had accompanied her to the shop. For her birthday - which was that day - he had promised to get her a Pokémon. She hadn’t even looked at the other Pokémon up for adoption here, but it seemed that she didn’t care. She had her heart set on the Growlithe, and a promise was a promise. He hoped he didn’t have to regret this decision - even as he signed the papers, a foreboding feeling washed over him.
“Just something to tell you before you take him home,” the attendee told him. “He’s agoraphobic, which means you shouldn’t take him outside the house unless absolutely necessary.”
“Okay, then. I guess we’ll just have to keep him inside until he gets over it,” the father replied.
“Thanks for coming, Mr. Stacks,” the attendee called after him as he walked from the store, hand in hand with his daughter, who in her other arm was cradled the Puppy Pokémon - Growlithe. He was stretched out, obviously enjoying himself. He didn’t notice the trip from the store to the car was outside because his eyes were shut at this point, and the little girl’s body shielded him from the wind.
“So, what do you say, Georgia?” her father asked her.
“Thank youuu, daddy! He’s really nice!” she replied automatically, beaming up at her father. He returned her smile, although he still had a feeling that the pup would only bring trouble to the house.
Back at the shop, mother Arcanine had lost her final child of the litter to yet another human. Her head was still laid upon her paws, but she gave a sad, dry sigh after it really hit home that she wouldn’t have another child around again, and already she was missing the charms of the young ones. The attendee at the shop took pity and put down his pen, moving swiftly towards the Arcanine to comfort her, however much in vain it might be. He placed a hand upon her head, proceeding to make its way down the large body and through all the soft, well-groomed fur. The Arcanine closed her eyes once more, surrendering herself to the weary fatigue that had came over her after this last loss. She would probably get over it after a while.
“Poor thing,” the attendee muttered softly.
[EDITING STARTED HERE.]
"Luwenhart, no!" screamed the piercing voice of Georgia's mother. A small, demented-looking red dog was tearing through their house, foaming at the mouth. Its teeth tore into anything that didn't move, and growling escaped its mouth if one of the humans attempted to go near it. He was clearly having some kind of bad reaction to its new surroudings and it had been sprung into a frenzy of such brutality that no-one wanted to see. The chairs had been upturned, the stuffing from them ripped out savagely, the tables had been shattered into splinters. Luwenhart's relentless attacks left the wallpaper charred and peeling, embers on the floor from the flames that had not burnt the wall. The small Puppy Pokémon was being extremely disruptive, and Georgia's mother, nor her father, knew what was going on with the thing.
Georgia, who had been curled up safely in her room, had been alarmed by the noises coming from downstairs, but the desperate cry of her mother shocked her into the realisation that something serious was going on, but she was too scared to go down. She shivered violently in her bed as she heard yet another crash, followed by a scream. Her father was starting to shout at the Pokémon, but it seemed to have no avail on the pup, hell-bent on destruction of his prison. Georgia began to cry in despair, not knowing what to do. Her eyes screwed tightly, almost as if it would shut everything out, the tears were expelled forcefully, and tore down her cheeks, and soon enough, her face and her pillow were both soaked. Her nose had became runny, her mouth open as she bawled loudly.
She wanted it to stop. She could just hear the cries, the growling and howling, the crashing and whoosh of flames. Pressing her hands to her ears as hard as she could, she was positively screaming now, and she didn’t know why no-one was coming for her. She wanted to be wrapped in the tight, comforting embrace of her mother and father, told that everything was going to be all right, and all the way away from that Growlithe, who was doing nothing but terrorising them, and he had only started being like this today, almost as if he had decided he didn’t want to be here any more. Georgia thought that perhaps she should bring the Pokémon back as soon as she could, but she wouldn’t know how to stop it from tearing down their house first.
Her throat raw from the screaming, she took her hands from her ears, and she heard her mother shouting for her. “Georgia! Where are you?!”
“Mummy?” she called uncertainly, still hearing the crashing going on downstairs. “I’m in my room!”
Georgia watched as the doorknob of her door twisted, but it didn’t seem to open. The door wasn’t locked or anything - she didn’t even have a lock on her door. With horror, she realised she was trapped in her own room, and her mother seemed to be banging against the door now, trying to knock it down with all her might, beginning to cry horribly as she couldn’t get to her daughter.
“Ian!” her mother yelled over all the ruckus. “Georgia’s door is stuck! I can’t get it open... oh my gosh, Ian. Fire...”
A strange thumping noise came from outside her door, and Georgia realised that her mum had slumped to the floor for some reason. Had she fainted? Georgia cried out, rushing to the door. She was unable to reach her mother, but it was only a door that separated them. She was so alone right now, alone and scared... what was her mother doing? To Georgia’s alarm, smoke began coming through the small gap under the door, and Georgia realised what her mother was talking about. Fire! The house was on fire! Luwenhart’s flames must have gone out of control, and now the house was alight as a result. Her mother was trapped out there, probably choking to death on the smoke. The smoke now rising upwards, Georgia backed away from the door.
“Mummy? Daddy?” she screamed, running away from the smoke which was beginning to fill up her room. “HELP ME! Where are you?”
As the level of smoke in the room increased, Georgia was pressed against her window, and she opened it in case it would help, but it didn’t do a thing for her. The smoke was billowing in the room now, and Georgia turned, looking outside the window. Spluttering and coughing now that the smoke was entering her system, she wasn’t doing herself any good by screaming herself hoarse, and tears were now streaming down her face, with a helpless expression plastered onto it. She grabbed whatever was nearby her, and slammed it into the window in front of her through her instincts. She had to escape from the burning house.
Clambering up onto the windowsill, she coughed heavily, her lungs almost filled completely with smoke. She heard the loud wails of sirens nearby, but she couldn’t see a thing. Her vision was hazy. Without knowing what she was doing, she jumped in her plea to get away from the blazing fire, from the smoke that filled her vision.
She fell down, down. She was a bird, falling from the sky, twisting gracefully.
A heavy thump denoted her meeting with the earth.
“Ian, Ian! I think she’s waking up!” came a familiar, feminine voice. It was filled with hope, yet choked with fear.
Georgia Stacks had lain in bed for several weeks. Not moving. Not caring. Her charred features from the burning smoke were now cleaned up a little, but it was obvious that her almost angelic face was now scarred with the horrific time she had just experienced. Her mother and father had been rescued from the flames quickly once a neighbour had phoned the authorities about what was happening, with minimal hurt. However, in Georgia’s plan to escape from the fire, she had not given it any thought, and had been found sprawled on the grass outside, her limbs awkwardly twisted and blood staining the grass, as the house behind her began to crumble under the inferno’s conquest.
“Mummy?” Her voice crackled, almost as if she had been dehydrated for a very long time. “You’re here...”
She opened her eyes, flinching as if moving her eyelids caused her pain. She could see only her mother’s face looming over her, and that was one of the only faces she wanted to see.
“Georgia, darling... you’re all right,” her father said, smiling gently as he looked over her. “Everything’s okay now. We’re all going to be fine, Georgia.”
“Hello, daddy. You’re here for me too. I have been dreaming. I was dreaming for such a long time. I wondered why no-one was waking me up.”
“You’re awake now, dear, and we’re really glad you are. You can be with your real family now,” her mother replied softly.
“And what about Luwenhart? Where is he?”
“We gave him back to the adoption centre. He won’t be seeing our house for a long time, dear. Don’t worry about him,” her father said. This, strictly speaking, wasn’t true. Once both Ian and his wife, Rachel, had recovered from what had happened, they took Luwenhart - who was kept in a cage by the firefighters - to the nearest Pokémon Centre.
They had grimly accepted the cage, and the procedure was shortly carried out.
Luwenhart had closed his eyes, and was finally obedient.
Last edited by Buoy; 14th November 2011 at 12:48 PM.
29th July 2011, 01:19 PM #2
Re: Dog Obedience 101 (Ready for grading).
1st August 2011, 05:10 PM #3
Re: Dog Obedience 101 (Ready for grading).
I feel like this grade is probably 80% nonsensical. ._. If something is like, WAIT, WHAT, please just yell at me and I’ll try to clarify.
Introduction/Plot: The opening and closing line are good attention-grabbers. You need to be careful, though. Very, very careful. Because you used adjectives. If you describe your story subject in vague terms right off the bat, you start out with a burden. I’m going to remember those adjectives throughout the entire story. They are going to color my interpretation of every single line I read. If by the time I get to the end of the story, I haven’t seen “appealing” turn into “destruction,” I will be very cross with you. D:< So, as a whole, solid intro method, but also risky. Did it pay off?
Appealing, yes. Destructive? Ehhhhh. You created a foreboding, with that phrase. It was even supported by the in-between paragraph description (with the image of the Growlithe opening its mouth came the inevitable growth of baby teeth into a maw). So, there was this expectation of something violent and traumatizing. Destroying furniture? Not so much. XD In theory, I like the inversion that occurred, there. However, the story had sooooo much of this “something bad is going to happen” vibe (mainly because of the intro). Nothing bad ever happened. I felt kinda gypped when I got to the end of the story.
My advice: Emphasize the inversion. Really dwell on the fact that nothing bad ever happened. Get a little cute, a little playful. It could be a “haha, I tricked you” sortof thing, or it could be a “SURPRISE” sortof thing. There are lots of in-between choices, too. There just needs to be something that makes it look more deliberate. It could be a gradual realization, where you stick in little comments here and there (Gosh, dog, you just rip everything apart… You’re ruining the lives of everyone you love! ← probably a bit over the top with the emphasis, but fair examples of one path you could take). Or, it could be a “moment of realization.” You’d need more of a build for that to work—focus on the already-there strains of dread, then create more of them, and remove any relaxing bits until you pull the “big reveal.” Just as an example… you could take the scene where the dog is ripping up the furniture, write it euphemistically so that we think he’s ripping up a human being or another Pokémon, retain the dialogue (but perhaps put a farcical spin on it), and then have this “LEAVE THAT COUCH ALONE” moment that gives us a bit of… “lolwut… damn, I been had.”
You have a LOT of options; it’s just a matter of actually picking one, instead of lingering awkwardly inbetween.
…Or you could just reword the “destruction” bit, and go entirely with a straightforward "this doggie needs to learn" plot. But making it work would probably be more worthwhile. More on that in plot section.
Plot: So, my qualms with your plot tie completely into my qualms with your introduction. You set us up for destruction, and then you never give it to us. You also didn’t go through with the emphasis on inversion that could’ve resolved that tension. There was, actually, a lot of unresolved tension in this story—with the strange mentions of Gardevoir’s Teleportation powers (no idea why those created tension, but they did), and the girl’s ominous final statement, I finished this off still thinking “something terrible is going to happen.” It felt like half of the narrative arc was chopped off. You could remove the tension and apprehension (which would make for a pretty dull story, tbh); you could justify it by creating some violence; or you could make a point of tying the lack of resolution together… into a resolution (as I discussed in the introduction). You just need to… do something with it.
I really like the juxtaposition you have going between the adoption scene and the couch assault scene, how it reflects the introduction paragraph and turns into a mergey sortof final scene. That’s good stuff. It definitely redeems some weakness of the narrative arc. In fact, the existence of it is part of why it seems the story would work better if you use the destruction gnarr start-up rather than go with simple obedience training fic. It also affords you a pretty good baseline setup, if you choose to flip the reader on their head and give them a good laugh when they realize all their worry was for naught. Even without that, it’s just plain cool, good writing—ties everything together nicely, flows well as a prose focus, and comes off as… neat. Very, very good job there.
So, half and half. Your structure is a pretty significant flaw when it comes to narrative arc; however, you also have awesome elements.
Grammar: You’re good to go.
Description: wtf are plimsolls ?_?
Seriously, though, your description is solid. In this particular story, you need to take another look at it, so that you’re controlling the atmosphere better (that tension resolution I rambled about); however, your style is excellent, and you pull off your style very well. It was pretty heavily detailed, but also accessible—kindof a rare feat, especially in Pokémon.
For experimentation’s purposes… you might want to consider incorporating more imagery details into your style. You have action-visual details quite often, but your what-does-this-look-like-visual details tend to be adjectives. Nouns and verbs are the “strongest” parts of speech (verbs are moreso than nouns). You have moments where you take basic visual details—colors, numbers, the tears dripping off of the girl’s normally pretty face… but we don’t get a good sense of what those look like. Sometimes, it’s unnecessary—numbers and colors are pretty straightforward unless it’s an odd shade, or a particularly impressive number (cascades of millions, ‘r something like that). However, the scene where the girl’s crying could’ve used a bit more scrunched face, watery eyes-type imagery.
Otherwise, you have a good balance of auditory and tactile description mixed in with your various visuals, ‘n you don’t skimp or go overboard. Me likey. Good job. ^^
Battle: Basically the Growlithe-vs-couch-vs-human conflict serves as the battle, here. There wasn’t really a “climax,” so to speak. There was a moment that could’ve been one—when she first gets Luwenfwafwafeeee to obey. But it wasn’t portrayed as enough of a struggle to serve as a climax. This served to further the awkwardness of the plot flow.
Reality: I don’t usually do this section, but… technically, Arcanine can’t have a litter because it lays eggs. …So it’d like, have a nest. Or something. In the Pokémon world. …Which is a really stupid, but vaguely amusing thought that I felt you needed to be disturbed by.
Verdict: I feel like, even though your plot was something new, it really didn’t fit together well. Normally for a Medium fic, I don’t think that’d be a problem—the plot is expected to be kindof rough. In this instance, though, it felt like the story was only half-written. That’s a bigger problem than a rough plot. Your detail was excellent, which makes up for a lot of it—but the story is really the most important part of the story. It's a story that's actually about dog obedience, but that isn't reflected in 40% of the text. There’s also the fact that, in an instance like this, the technical grading fallback is “how’s their battle?” ‘n you don’t have a strong climax. I’m going to have to say Growlithe not captured. Smooth out the introduction-plot disjunction in some way, and perhaps create more of a narrative arc by creating a recognizable climax of some sort. There’s a lot of ways you can go; hopefully the grade helped you start brainstorming. You’re a really good writer. It’s just a matter of worming all the pieces together, in this particular fic. I genuinely want to see how you resolve the issues, so I better see a rewrite of some sort for regrading. xP
Last edited by Scourge of Nemo; 1st August 2011 at 07:34 PM.
Reason: where did the rest of it go ._.
13th November 2011, 05:29 PM #4
Re: Dog Obedience 101 (Ready for grading).
SORRY THIS TOOK EVEN LONGER THAN THE ORIGINAL GRADE. I'M A TERRIBLE PERSON.
So, basically, Growlithe captured. You picked a resolution to that tension and you rolled with it. The note of horror remained throughout the entirety of the piece--very impressive atmospheric control of the narrative arc. I'm a little sad that you went with the full-on destruction path instead of the tricksy inversion path, but at the same time, you pulled this plot off excellently. The use of euphemism in the final line was especially o_o...<3 SO GOOD JOB.
The main thing to consider: make sure that you're only misleading on purpose. Accidental misleading creates all sorts of problems.
Uhhh, random stylistic thing I'll slip in about the edits... While you do generally have a very nice balance of extended detail/narration, et cetera, I've been noticing in your recent stories that you sometimes deviate a bit too far towards the detail side of things. Careful that you don't depart from the story to describe things. Try to keep your descriptions in a natural flow that doesn't distract (unless you're doing worldbuilding or really really hardcore symbolism stuff/trying out a similar experimental style). I think you know WHERE you're describing--just think very hard about what you're describing, when you're describing it, and how much "thought time" it's going to take up. If it's an image that creates the reader's mental engagement but isn't strictly necessary, consider omitting it. (Or, if it serves an atmospheric purpose, find something else that's necessary for you to describe and work the same tone in there.) [/ramble]