Endless Shellos (NWC)

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  1. #1
    Sneaky Ryoku's Avatar
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    Default Endless Shellos (NWC)

    You’re sitting on the couch, watching T.V. with no particular interest. As you’re flicking through the channels, your remote’s batteries finally give up their last hold on life and you jarringly realize your channel surfing has ended. With nothing much to do, and no particular motivation to get up from your seat, you settle in to watch what appears to be an old Surfing documentary…

    ***


    There is a wave. Nay, this is more than a simple wave. It is a great towering beast, a cold, dark blue at its base, slowly fading to an emerald green as it goes up, up, up towards the heavens. At its crown, a great crest of pure-white foam appears, and on top of this, as if on top of all creation, rides a solitary Shellos, the slug-like creature’s green underbelly and blue upper body mirroring the coloration of the monstrous wave. The Shellos dons what can only be described as a devious grin as the foam begins to roll in on the wave. Now crashing with all the might of Tohjo Falls, the wave is suddenly bare; no sign can be found of the Shellos’ existence. As the wave forms into a long tube, it becomes apparent what has happened: the Shellos has dived into the wave, and is now riding through the tube with an incomparable grace, its grin now appearing to split its whole face in two. As the tunnel slowly closes, a feeling of apprehension descends upon all who witness it. Will the Shellos make it? Smaller, smaller grows the tunnel; wider, wider grows that grinning face. The tube’s opening is now no bigger than the Shellos itself, the Shellos a full body length away from safety! Just as it appears all is lost for this admirable creature, the Shellos ducks its head and puts on an extra burst of speed, emerging unharmed, leaving the crashing wave behind it. Before the feeling of triumph against such great odds can sink in, however, the rude voice of the Narrator invades your inner ear.

    “This is the famous – or perhaps infamous is a better word – Surfin’ Shellos of Porta Vista. Porta Vista is widely known as a beautiful resort town, with all manner of fun and games happening at the town’s beautiful beach. It is lesser known as one of the best (if not THE best) surfing spots in all of Kanto. Every summer, surfers from all over the world come here to test their mettle against some of the greatest waves in existence. While many have triumphed over the waves, none have been able to triumph over this incredible little Pokémon. Though Shellos is normally unable to learn Surf without the use of a Hidden Machine, this Shellos has overcome its own limitations. For years it studied the form of the surfers here in Porta Vista, hoping to one day ride the waves as well as them. With practice it succeeded, and in little time was even better at Surfing than those it studied! This, however, is not the story of the legendary Surfin’ Shellos. This is the story of Kyle Joshua who, as both Surfer and Trainer, wanted nothing more than to defeat the Shellos at its own game, and Capture the Ultimate Surfing Partner.”

    The image changes to that of a tall, tan skinned young man. Assuming this to be the aforementioned hero of the story, you take in his features. Appearing to be about twenty years old, he has shoulder length brown hair, lightened by the sun and formed into shaggy spikes by the peculiar nature of saltwater. His lean physique would suggest the image of his body being snapped like a twig under the force of a wave, but if you look closely you can notice a layer of finely toned, compact muscle between his skin and bones. His face sports a grin comparable to the Shellos’, his eyes reflecting wave after wave of crashing water. His nose would be considered bold and handsome, except it has the appearance of having been broken numerous times. His knees are odd; they have strange little knobs near where the reflex point is, as if ping pong balls are embedded under the skin. However, you guess that this, like his nose, is simply a side effect of being a Surfing enthusiast. His only clothing is a pair of swimming trunks, bleached white with a bright red Gyarados pattern. The last thing you notice is his surfboard: A plank of wood even longer than its rider is tall; it has rounded tips, and a dorsal fin like a Sharpedo’s near one end. The board is mostly patterned with the natural grain of the wood, but two red stripes run the entire length of the board, like racing stripes on a muscle car. You involuntarily shiver as the narrator’s voice resumes.

    “Kyle’s story begins seven years ago, in his hometown in the Seafoam Islands. At this point, Kyle had never even thought of Surfing, focusing solely on his Pokémon studies.” A gangly youth is featured, and although he has an unbroken nose, dark hair, pale skin, and is fully clothed, it is still recognizably Kyle. “His life changed forever one day while going for a walk with his family.”

    “Yeah, man, I remember it like it was yesterday,” the present day Kyle explains. “We were going for a little stroll, when I noticed this GINORMOUS commotion on the beach. Little did I know that I was about to witness Victor and Puka’s legendary conquest of the Humunga-Dunga!”

    “The inspirational flag planting of Victor changed Kyle’s life forever,” continues the Narrator as you repress a wince. “Kyle bought the first surfboard he could get his hands on, and went surfing every day to get better. Eventually, he was noticed by Victor himself, and was offered coaching from the legendary surfer!” Archive footage of Victor coaching Kyle is shown, as the middle-aged man shows his pupil first how to paddle out to sea, then to ride a small wave, and then finally clasps his hand to his face as Kyle wipes out again and again.

    “It was tough in the beginning, to be sure,” says an aged Victor. “But as the months went by, Kyle really got the hang of it. By the time two years had passed, I could tell he would be one of the greats.”

    “The years went by, and Kyle began to gain recognition from the Surfing world as he went from hot spot to hot spot, Surfing the biggest, baddest waves he could find. It wasn’t long before he heard about the Surfin’ Shellos.”

    “Yeah, I heard about this righteous little Surfer, beating the best at the hardest waves, and I knew I wanted to ride against him,” Kyle explains. “To make it even more interesting, the Surfer in question was a Pokémon! I knew right then and there, that little dude was going to be mine.”

    “With the objective of Shellos’ capture in mind,” said the Narrator, coming dangerously close to convincing you to just get up and change the darn batteries in the remote, “Kyle went to Porta Vista. It was the peak of the Surfing Season, and so a Surfing competition was being held: The winner would receive the right to challenge the elusive Surfin’ Shellos! On the very last day of registration, Kyle got onto the entrant’s list with only thirty-two minutes to spare.”

    “Yeah, there were a lot of entrants that year,” says Kyle. “The year before, the winner had come really close to catching the Shellos, so everyone had a renewed faith that they could capture it. There were a few REALLY big names on that list, but they were mostly newbies in over their heads. I was really surprised, though, to see that my old coach Victor had entered!”

    “Indeed, Victor would prove to be Kyle’s toughest competition.” Images of all of Kyle’s matches are shown to the Narrator’s voiceover, each of Kyle’s opponents wiping out. “After a series of nine relatively easy victories, Kyle found himself facing off with his mentor in the Finals of the contest.”

    The face-off now showing is one hundred times more intense than those shown before. Kyle and Victor both come dangerously closing to wiping out over and over, as each pulls off one insane stunt after another. Kyle attempts a mid-air board grab, and as he glides back into the tube, he narrowly misses hitting Victor with his board. Distracted by the close call, Victor loses his balance and gets taken out by the wave.

    “It was a really disappointing win, because I know the match would have gone on much longer if it hadn’t been for that stunt,” Kyle laments. “But Victor was ok, and while it wasn’t a satisfactory win, it was a win all the same.”

    “Having earned the privilege to challenge the Surfin’ Shellos, Kyle’s excitement rose to such a level that he contracted a fever.” Kyle is shown wrapped in blankets despite the heat, with a thermometer hanging from his mouth, as if he were a cartoon character. “After a week of rest, Kyle was back in the waves, readier than ever for his match with Shellos.”
    A rare moment of calm is observed, as Kyle paddles out to meet the Shellos. The Pokémon is wearing an impossibly wide grin in anticipation of its match. With a signal to Kyle, it begins swimming out to where their match will take place. Riding the swell, both Surfers keep their eyes peeled, looking for the perfect wave. Kyle knows that if he can catch a better wave than the Shellos, that his win will be assured; likewise, Shellos is determined to not let that happen.

    An hour passes, along with more waves than minutes, when suddenly Kyle and Shellos both spring into activity. Faster and faster they paddle to keep up with the chosen wave, desperate to make this ride count. The wave grew, and grew, and grew until it crested at an even greater height than the wave featured at the beginning of the documentary! With a gulp to steel himself, Kyle plunged into the wave at almost the same moment as the Shellos did. Down they plummeted, on what must have been the steepest, fastest, most exhilarating roller coaster ride of their lives. As they emerged, they found themselves isolated in a blue-green tunnel, reaching on so far that neither the Surfers nor the special Surf-Along camera could see the end of it! Forward they raced, weaving right and left in an intricate dance, truly visible only to the dancers. Farther and farther through the quickly shrinking tube they went, their dance becoming more and more intricate with each passing moment.

    Suddenly, there it was: the Opening! Faster they raced, making a silent agreement that first out of the tube would be the winner. Faster and faster they went, the Shellos making use of its small stature, Kyle keeping up with the sleek shape of his board. Who would be victorious? As they neared the opening, the camera perspective switched to that of an outside observer, just in time to make out both Surfers emerging from the tunnel’s mouth neck-and-neck!

    “A super accurate reading of the photo finish would reveal that Shellos won by less than a millimeter.” the Narrator reports. “Despite the victory of the Surfin’ Shellos, it recognized in Kyle a Trainer – and Surfer – worth being partners with.”

    “Yeah,” Kyle continues. “Shellos and I have been traveling for a year now, Surfing all the best spots, battling all the best Trainers. It’s been a blast so far, and it’s sure to continue long enough for us to conquer the Humunga-Dunga, just like Victor and Puka. And who knows, maybe someday we’ll encounter a young Surfer in need of guidance. Whatever lies ahead, Shellos and I are ready.”

    ***


    Annoyed by the conventional ending, and having no desire to watch an encore performance of the documentary, you actually get up and turn off the T.V. Stepping outside your beach house, you breathe in the salty sea breeze. Maybe you’ll go look for a Shellos yourself. Surfing, however, you’ll leave to the nut jobs with wild hair.

    The End

    ---------------------------------------------------


    Well, this is my entry for the NWC. Like the rest of the entries, it's for a Shellos, which takes 5k to 10k characters. Including spaces, this is 11.5k characters.

    I'm open to comments, but please wait until it has been graded. Thank you.

    With that, let the grading commence!

    NOTE: I know that the Shellos I get won't know Surf. It's purely for story purposes.
    Last edited by Ryoku; 25th April 2010 at 02:31 PM.

  2. #2
    My Legs! Neighborhood-Guest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Endless Shellos (NWC)

    Claimed for Grading. :)

  3. #3
    My Legs! Neighborhood-Guest's Avatar
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    Default Re: Endless Shellos (NWC)

    Introduction:
    You’re sitting on the couch, watching T.V. with no particular interest. As you’re flicking through the channels, your remote’s batteries finally give up their last hold on life and you jarringly realize your channel surfing has ended. With nothing much to do, and no particular motivation to get up from your seat, you settle in to watch what appears to be an old Surfing documentary…
    I thought that the introduction was pretty good. It gave me the initiative to keep reading, as anything written in the second-person view does. It bothered me, though, that you almost immediately wrote your story off with the readers being bored (indicated by bold-faced print above). One of the most important parts of a solid introduction is to get your reader interested in your story and keep them reading by keeping them interested. While what you've depicted is realistic, I didn't really think, "Wow, that's interesting, let's keep reading", so much as I thought, "Starts off kinda boring...let's see if it gets better from here". Most readers wouldn't have that kind of patience with a story; I do because it's my job here.

    In short, while I understand that you were setting up for a documentary with this introduction, it didn't make me feel interested in your story. It was well-written, but more on that in later sections.

    Plot:
    A Surfing documentary depicts the coming of age of Kyle Joshua, whose life is forever changed when he witnesses a legendary Surfer conquer an exceptionally large wave. He immediately decides to become a Surfer himself, and trains with the legend in order to become the best. After a lot of training, he eventually decides to enter a Surfing competition in Porta Vista for a chance at the infamous Surfin' Shellos. He wins a close match with his mentor, and takes on the Shellos, losing by a miniscule margin. From this, however, he earns the respect of the Shellos, and it decides to travel with him.

    The plot was original for a coming of age story, I'll give you that. Typically, these sorts of documentaries are an hour long, so I kind of expected this to be longer and give more detail on each scenario, but that's not really relevant, given your target Pokemon. Even though it was original, it was still kind of simple, but again, that's hardly a problem given your target.

    So I say good job with this one! Moving on...

    Dialogue:
    A lot of the dialogue in this was impersonal, seeing as how the main character (the eponymous "you") couldn't exactly converse with everyone else in the story directly. However, you did a good job drawing out personalities for the most part. The stereotypical surfer image came to mind immediately with Kyle, and the stern mentor mold came to mind with his teacher, Victor. I felt that you did more telling with the narrator's personality, though: he was spouting off facts, which would normally make him sound boring, but you spent more time telling the readers about the bored reaction to his comments, which kind of watered down the impact his dialogue had on me.

    In short, if you want your character to be boring, make sure that his dialogue speaks for him! You don't need to tell me that he's boring if he sounds boring in the first place. But otherwise, good job.

    Grammar:
    There were a couple of things that I noticed, though they are minor, and the rest of your grammar looked spot-on to me.

    This line (as spoken by the narrator) came across as awkward to me:

    “This is the famous – or perhaps infamous is a better word – Surfin’ Shellos of Porta Vista. Porta Vista is widely known as a beautiful resort town, with all manner of fun and games happening at the town’s beautiful beach. It is lesser known as one of the best (if not THE best) surfing spots in all of Kanto.
    Now, the hyphenated correction at the beginning seemed awkward to me because most of these documentaries (if not all of them) are scripted in such a way that these sorts of corrections wouldn't be present. If you really wanted to include that in there, I think this would be a better format:

    This is the famous Surfin’ Shellos of Porta Vista, though "infamous" may be a better label.
    Obviously, you'd have to rearrange the sentences after that to make sure the line doesn't come across as awkward, but that's done easily enough. The second awkward thing was the addition of a line in parentheses. It's difficult to put these in dialogue and still make it sound realistic, especially in this case. Most of the time, adding parentheses in dialogue indicates that the person speaking is muttering that line under their breath; since the narrator is saying this, and he isn't attempting to, say, advertise or shamelessly plug the place (he kind of has to remain unbiased), the parentheses seem awkward in there. It's probably better grammatically to just choose one or the other, though you can suggest what was in parentheses by wording it differently, like so:

    It is lesser known as one of the single best surfing spots in all of Kanto.
    The addition of "single" hints at the fact that it may be the best surfing spot.

    This is nitpicking, but the use of the word "readier" was kind of awkward; I think it would have read better if you just used "more prepared". Not as fancy, but fancier words can sometimes sound awkward if used in certain contexts.

    Detail and Description:
    You gave a lot of details in this story, and the whole thing was very well-written. Your description of the waves and the various events of Kyle's coming of age were shown in such a way that I could visualize them very easily.

    There is a problem, however. While this story was very well-written, I wouldn't be lying if I told you it was boring as Hell. The fact that you started it off kind of boring only made this fact worse as the story went on. This may have been what you were going for with the whole documentary setup, and that doesn't pose much of a problem for your Grade, but it does pose a problem for your placement in the competition. It's hard for you to get a high rating if the readers can't get through all of the great details because the whole story is a boring read.

    This problem stemmed from two major sources: using the documentary backdrop, and writing in the second person. I've already talked about the documentary backdrop, so let's talk about writing in the second person for a moment. Have you ever read one of those "choose your adventure" books? The problem with those is that it's difficult to really get into them if the subject of the book doesn't interest you all that much. The use of the second person point of view putting you into a situation that you find boring can be off-putting for some people. What's more, if you write off a documentary as boring, you'll get much of the same reaction. Doing both together in the same story...well...

    So overall, this story was very well-written and had lots of details, especially considering your target. It was just very boring to read. In the future, you'll want to find an effective balance of details that will keep your readers interested, but not put them off because they have to slog through so many details that it becomes boring to continue reading.

    Battle:
    As a snowboarder, I can appreciate a good race as a battle in and of itself, even though it's not technically considered one by URPG standards. Having won several races myself, I'd say you got the suspenseful photo finish down pretty well, since I've had more than one race come down to less than a half-second of difference between finishes. It was kind of a boring read (see above), which diluted some of the suspense of seeing who the winner was, but it was done well, in my opinion.

    Length:
    Shellos is in the Simple category; the suggested length for Pokemon in this category is 5,000 to 10,000 characters. Your story is 11,475 characters, so that's more than enough.

    Outcome:
    Drum roll, please...

    ...

    As you stare out at the sea outside of the beach house, you can faintly see a wave off in the distance. You squint to get a better look; two figures can be seen riding the wave as it closes in on itself. Before they are finally enveloped by the wall of water, you catch a glimpse of blue and green streaking sideways across the side of the wave, just out of reach of the other figure.

    Gotcha! Shellos was caught!

    Like I said, well-written, but boring. Work on finding a good balance of details so that the reader's interest is maintained throughout the story, and you'll do just fine in future attempts.

    Enjoy your catch!

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