9th April 2010, 05:55 AM
The Grading Group & Grading Guide
credit to ragnarok0422
-Councilors- (aka 'The Peeps')
-Graders who were given a bloody and glorious death-
Dog of Hellsing
GALLEON. WITH AN AXE. AND THE SPINAL CORD OF A FISH.
Jack of Clovers
Not Safe For Adults
Phantom Kat ;_;
Scourge of Nemo. MAY YOUR ASHES SCATTER OVER THE OCEAN AT SUNSET ON A VALIANT BREEZE. </3
The Jr Trainer
Princess Crow: Active
Last edited by Princess Crow; 26th March 2014 at 11:38 AM.
12th April 2010, 09:53 AM
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
Welcome would be Writers and future Graders. Thank you for taking the time to stop by this thread. I hope you’re here to become a Grader. Even if you aren’t, there are some tips on what Graders look for in a story that you may find handy. But first, here are the steps you need to take to become a Grader.
- Before you can become a Grader, you need to write stories for the URPG so you can get a feel of what we look for and how to write.
- Experience is different from one person to the next. I suggest writing three to four stories; try to catch Pokemon of different difficulties. Some people may write 3 stories, some may write 5 stories before they feel ready.
- Help give Feedback to other stories. Not only is this great practice, but it helps the community.
- Read the guides in the How to Write Freaking Stories thread, and be certain you have the writing knowledge and experience to grade another's story.
If you have these qualities, and a little patience to read stories, we may ask you if you want to become a Grader. If you think have these qualities and we haven't asked you yet, you may send either the Head or Lead Grader a PM. After which, there are three ways they will deal with it:
Look at how hard you've worked and give you the job.
Deny you for reasons stated (need improvement writing stories, better grammar, etc.)
3- Make you take the Grader Test, listed below.
The Grader Test consists of grading fake stories, completing a grammar multiple choice test, and correcting a paragraph, all of which can be found here.
When you have all three grades, the grammar test, and the paragraph completed: PM an active Grader Tester. Please do not PM all of us or continually PM us, be patient. If you’re wondering how exactly you are supposed to grade for your test, then read the next post for helpful tips. If you didn't pass your test, please wait two weeks to gain more experience before reapplying.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 05:11 PM.
If you like people who yell a lot, then you're going to love me. OR MAYBE NOT. I DUNNO.
12th April 2010, 09:55 AM
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
The 'How To' of URPG Grading (and Writing)
Let’s get right to it: The nitty-gritty of grading a story. Read on to find out which specific areas you might want to devote more effort to when you write grades. Remember that the subsections you include in a grade are both a matter of personal style and also dependent on the absolute necessities the writer needs to improve. Those necessities are here!
Remember that you should not at all include all, or even really 60%, of the below analysis in the average grade. A word of advice from EmBreon, our favorite ex-Head Grader: "Short stories should get simple grades. New stories should get even simpler grades. Moderate stories should get moderate grades. And to be honest, Complex grades shouldn't even be happening unless they've peaked about 100k. There is simply not enough text to even make it practical. Extensive grades should be practically non-existent, unless someone specifically asks for it, the size is tremendous, and the grader knows what they are doing."
This is very much intended to guide writers, too. If you take a peek at what graders are supposed teach you, you'll have a head start. It should be easier to catch Pokémon the first time around. :o
[Revised by Scourge of Nemo, then uber-edited by Taras Bulba. Now more or less written entirely by Taras Bulba. I have no idea who originally wrote this. Jack? DUNNO.]
BY THE WAY. IF YOUR GRADES ARE THIS LONG, YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. AND NEVER FORGET THE RULES IN "HOW NOT TO GRADE LIKE A JERK."
First, read the How to Write Stories thread.
How a story is begun is one of its most important aspects, especially here on the Internet where words are legion and attention spans are short. A good writer grabs the attention of his or her readers in the introduction; a good grader is able to critique his or her attention-grabbing techniques. Are the characters introduced? Do they have personalities and a background? Are there details about the surroundings and such that allow us to visualize the opening scene in our heads? At the start of the story, we need to know who Johnny is, what Johnny is, where Johnny is, and what he is doing. Why he is doing it may well be the subject of the rest of the story, so don't go looking too hard for that just yet.
These are the fundamentals, the backbone, of an introduction. However, you can look for more than that. The story doesn't just begin--it opens, and the writer wants you to walk through the door. Is there a special something about the story that draws you in from the first sentence? Can you tell what sort of story it is shaping up to be? Is it particularly vivid? Is there an exciting yet mysterious action scene that begs to be explained? Is there some sort of stereotype or expectation of yours that is abruptly overturned? These sort of things make an introduction delicious. Showing the writer that they're delicious is your job.
There should be some kind of introduction at the start of every capture attempt.
Pay particular attention to the writing style. If the story is unreadable due to grammatical problems, no amount of awesome-tastic plotting is going to get people to read it. Provide some gentle pointers here if you see some problems.
A particular challenge for URPG-form writing is multiple-installment stories. Many stories are posted and graded in chapters. In this case, you need to examine how the author balances the "last-time-on-the-adventures-of-Johnny" part of it with the need to start with a bang. A good in-the-middle intro mixes information for new readers with the beginning of the actual rest of the story without sounding like an infodump.
Experienced writers know the score when it comes to introductions. Instead of talking about whether they have done the things we've just discussed, because they certainly have done them, you should talk about just how they were done. Was this technique appropriate or well-executed? Was that technique particularly excellent? Is there a better alternative that would give the intro that extra spark? This takes a lot of thought and some detailed consideration of the story as a whole, but our better writers deserve it.
Plot is, literally, the story itself. Does Johnny make friends with a Pokemon? Does he fight battles? Is he himself a Pokemon trying to make his way in a human world?
The most important aspect of plot is kind of intangible: is it a good story? Good stories are creative, gripping, and get you invested in the action. Your enjoyment of the plot will be easy for you to assess but possibly difficult for you to describe in your grade. Try to find the tangibles.
A more definable aspect of a good plot is flow. As Johnny progresses from place to place or event to event, doing whatever things he needs to do to move the action forward, you should be able to follow him. If you suddenly get a feeling of disorientation, there's some flow confusion. However, sometimes the writer may create this effect on purpose. If it happens at the same time that Johnny gets confused over something, it can be an awesome way to get the reader to identify with him. If that's the case, bravo. But if the flow disruption's not deliberate, make sure the writer knows it's happening. Don't be all, HEY YOUR FLOW IS MESSED UP. Explain "The story feels weird here; it moves so quickly that the reader doesn't know what's going on." Or, "I have no idea where your character is now. Maybe you could stop to describe the daisies."
A specific issue in URPG writing is stereotyping. The archetypal Pokemon story goes as follows: Johnny goes on wilderness adventure, Johnny meets Pokemon, Johnny fights Pokemon, POKEMON GET. We graders are automatically biased against this- admit it! These stories are old, hackneyed, and reflect badly on their writers' creativity: this is what we think.
Don't be so quick to judge; context is everything. It may so happen that a particular story of this format has many merits. Is the protagonist original, even if the plot is not? Is this a debut story with impeccable grammar from a new author? Was the (oh-so-predictable) battle genuinely exciting and scintillatingly choreographed? Pat the author on the back! That story was actually pretty awesome!
One of the most important parts of a Plot grading section is the suggestions for improvement. Especially for stories of 100k+ written by experienced writers, you'll have to really get into the plot, see what makes it tick, and look for gaps or areas that could be polished. If it's a plot so awesome that you're having trouble finding any issues, don't be afraid to the writer just what makes it so great. That's good writing and good grading. An invaluable but dangerous resource for understanding plot structure is the TV Tropes Wiki. Seek it out on Google if you have several hours of free time. Perhaps make sure you get some sleep first. Food, too; TVTropes has at least twice the addictive power of the regular Wikipedia. I did say "dangerous."
A relatively easy thing to do is plot-hole patching. Look for logical or causal inconsistencies (i.e. "That couldn't happen! That makes no sense! And you didn't convince me that it could make sense!") and bring them to attention. If the situation is particularly complex, provide a potential fix.
The higher-level captures require some pretty cool plotting. Don't just ask yourself if it was a good story; look for things like themes, surprise, and lack of extra dangly bits. Point out any problems and areas to build upon. And for goodness' sake commend them for particularly nice bits of writing! Pointing out what you like can be a really good tool to a writer. Maybe you've picked up on an underlying theme or technique in the story that the author used unconsciously. By letting him or her know what he or she's been doing, he or she can really progress as a writer and form an unique personal voice.
If you can't find any problems or room for improvement, then GOOD. JOB WELL DONE. TELL THE WRITER THAT. And make sure to not be all "This was so wonderful and excellent and wonderful" without some level of "It was awesome when you did this, and that explosion was really well timed, and your discussion of the main character's death almost made me cry" and et cetera.
Even if you can find holes... ALSO TELL THEM GOOD JOB. THEY'VE WRITTEN AN ENTIRE STORY. THEY SHOULD BE PROUD.
First off, remember that dialogue is optional. Some writers can toss pretty much any aspect of storytelling he or she wants to, up to and including dialogue, an antagonist, a central conflict, or even conventional sentence structure. Your job as a grader is not to tell them to include these things, but to let them know if what they've done works. Be generous; few of us are adults!
Okay, dialogue. Most stories will have it. It is generally a cornerstone of good storytelling. Most stories will have mediocre dialogue at best; advanced usage can be tricky. That said, poor dialogue is easy to see: it serves no purpose or breaks the suspension of disbelief. Dialogue should push the plot forward, assist in defining a character's personality, or (subtly!) give background information to the reader. If it stands out from the flow of the story and makes you think, WAIT, WHAT'S THAT DOING THERE, there's a bit of an issue. Script-fics are not well-received here; you should warn writers who only have line after line of dialogue without anything actually happening! Also, keep your eyes open for character names; if you lose track of who's saying what line, let the writer know.
An basic grammatical rule is that each line of dialogue must be in its own paragraph, for the sake of readability. Make sure your writer has either done this or is reminded to do it next time.
There is also the matter of nested quotes. Regular dialogue goes inside double quotes. " " However, quotation marks inside a line of dialogue go in single quotes, or apostrophes. ' ' Examples follow.
"I watched 'Mewtwo Strikes Back!' yesterday," she said.
"Confucius say: 'Man who run before bus get tired.'"
Now, what makes dialogue advanced? A well-written character should be able to define him- or herself by the way he or she speaks without hitting you over the head with it. Writers often use dialects, different vocabularies, speech tics such as stuttering and "like," and distinctive sentence structures. Also pay attention to the age of the characters: do children talk like children or like adults? Well-written children sound childlike without necessarily sounding stupid. There is also another factor: most people don't write like they talk. Really effective dialogue should sound more like something someone would say than something someone would write. If you ever look at an accurate transcript of a speech, you may find that it's difficult to read because of all the pauses, "um"s, and "like"s. As a general rule for budding young URPG writers, you should encourage them to avoid the extremes of "unreadable realism" and "unrealistic conversations."
When suggesting improvements, focus on little things that can set individual characters apart or make them more human. Remember that straightforward dialogue is great for a low-level capture. You shouldn't discuss a lot of the crazy advanced stuff mentioned here for anything less than a Hard+ capture--and even then, that's pushing it.
Three words: never demand perfection.
If there's only a very few noticeable, unrepeated errors in the story, you can highlight them without much comment and assume the author already knows how to fix them. If they seem to be a regular occurrence, however, especially if it's a particular type of error that keeps popping up, then it's time to whip out the explanations. Good general advice is to use a word processor such as MS Word or a browser that at least has spell check. Recommend editing to all: a short bug-catching expedition is necessary after writing before it's ready for publication.
If you feel you can't explain a particularly arcane point of grammar (and English grammar is arcane indeed) there is no lack of grammar-focused websites that you can draw from. Don't be afraid to link out to explain that which you can't explain yourself, or at least copy and past the relevant part and include it in your grade. It is polite to credit the original source.
There is no absolute consensus on the spelling or capitalization of Pokemon-world terms. Some capitalize them, treating them as proper nouns: Potion, Growlithe, Hyper Beam. Some say they would be ordinary words in the Pokemon world and wouldn't be capitalized: ether, poke ball, zubat. Some put the little accent on the e. Others can't be bothered. So long as the writer is consistent in his or her usage, you don't have to worry about it. One thing to remember, though, is that Poke Ball and Poke Mart are traditionally two-word terms.
If they do good, always remember to say so.
If you're going to grade an advanced story on an advanced level (as in, like, 60k or longer, at least), you can deal less with the surface conventions.
We all know that sensory details are like the spice rack in the kitchen of writing. (And that simile was like ketchup: not so sophisticated but gets the job done.) Details liven up the story. This is part of the reason why script-fics are of limited use: they don't have any narration, and that's where you find some of the best details!
As with all other things, moderation here is important. The two extremes as defined by the distinguished individuals of the TV Tropes Wiki are beige prose and purple prose. Beige prose is dry, fairly technical writing that basically says "It was A in the B with the C." We now know how Mr. Boddy died, but where was the spark? The romance? On the other hand, purple prose is where the writer unscrewed the tops of the adverb and adjective shakers and dumped the entire contents over the plate with some thesaurus to garnish. You can smell it from a mile away: an adverb after every instance of "said," sentences longer than some ordinary paragraphs, words nobody's used since Shakespeare's time (and, if you think about it, there has got to be some reason nobody uses them anymore), and paragraph after paragraph spent describing the setting or the color of the protagonist's hair.
The take-home message here is never to advocate an extreme. Really, really amazing description says a lot with a little--not a little with a little or a little with a lot. (Yes, that's right, chew on that.) If they did something well, point it out. If there's an endless, awkward description that kills your soul, quote it and say, "You're doing a bit too much here. Try to draw some of this out into other places/tone down the adjectives and adverbs/this doesn't actually tell us something that's super important to the story, so maybe shorten it." If there's not enough description, ask questions that draw them out. "What are his feelings here? How's his face look?" Make sure not to make them think you're asking for ridiculous, extreme prose.
A good rule of thumb is to make detail a second priority when compared to concision. If the prose is tight and punchy, one should be able to figure out which details are needed along the course of the story, both to progress the plot and to allow the reader to understand the characters. Remind the ambitious writer: which words are necessary? A useful hierarchy put forth by Scourge of Nemo is verb > noun > adjective > adverb. (">" is the greater-than symbol as used in mathematics) We see here that the most important thing is action! Verbs! With a sufficiently skilled writer, all rules can be thrown out the window, but for our purposes pretty much every story should have things happen in them: verbs.
One last word of note: connotation. The richer and longer the description in the story is, the more important it becomes that that description set a consistent mood throughout. Unless the author is making a conscious and conspicuous exception, but that's always a concern anyway. So back to connotation: a sad story probably shouldn't have words like "mirthfully" or "bright." A tale of manly men and the manly things they do should steer clear of "sparkly" and "delicate." It should be easy to notice if there are tonal contradictions, because as a reader, your reaction will probably be, "WAIT WHAT." If this happens, point it out. Don't be all, "YOUR CONNOTATION IS STUPID." Explain that "these words in this situation feel really really weird because they contradict each other."
The Pokémon Battle
In many stories, the plot climaxes with a battle of some sort. Some stories make do without a battle, which requires a bit of daring from the writer. A story which makes do without a climax, though, requires near-suicidal bravery. You may have learned about the rising and falling action of the plot: introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, denouément. (Please don't use that last word in a grade.) This is the classical form of drama as defined by the scholar Gustav Freytag as defined by Wikipedia. Many modern stories don't follow this form, and that's fine. It's even recommended. But. If there isn't some kind of peak at all, or multiple peaks, or a half-peak that mocks the fact that there is no peak... the story's often not going to work. The final climax is where everything comes together and the story's existence is legitimized. So it's important. If there are climax issues, point 'em out.
Now, in multi-part stories, things get interesting. There should be a story arc in any competently-written serial, such that it only gets really exciting a few installments in. However, if each part doesn't have its own little climax, then there are some problems.
Climaxes can take several forms. In all cases, there is some kind of conflict taking place in the story, and the climax is where it is resolved. However! The conflict isn't necessarily physical, and so the climax may not be physical. Not all stories feature action scenes. Could you imagine a gun battle in March of the Penguins, for instance? Non-physical climaxes include arguments, major decisions, changes in attitude, and various family interactions.
As for battles themselves, they should feature the best of all the other sections we've covered. Tight plotting. Efficient but rich description. Character traits. Creativity; a boring, predictable, or stereotypical is no fun. Just writing out what would happen in the actual games is a no-no unless the author has a really good reason to. We're talking plot point here. A straight-up transcript ("And thne pikachu used thunder bolt i twas supper efective!") is going to need some sound advice-giving.
Another factor to consider is the placement of the climax. It should be in a good position relative to the rest of the story. Is it too early? Is the ending too abrupt because it was too late? Does it lead to a satisfying conclusion?
SO BASICALLY. The battle is usually the climax, and the climax is usually important. Don't ignore it! It's definitely more important than the introduction in most stories. Be sure to, as usual, encourage the writer by showing them what they did awesomely; equally as usual, do not swamp them with criticism or advice, but do give helpful pointers for including what they've got.
You know how the length requirements work. The How to Write Stories thread has the full explanation. However, the length requirement is more like a strong recommendation. By all means, pass an exceptional story even if it is underlength. If a story doesn't meet its division requirements, you shouldn't pass it just because it managed to hit the limit. Call the writer out if they clearly inserted, like, completely irrelevant scenes just to get to the full length.
Is this really a Pokemon story? Does it abide by the unwritten rules of Pokemon?
Style is certainly the writer's choice. However, if they stray too far from the original spirit and universe of Pokemon, it's pretty easy to notice. We're not saying they have to fit absolutely accurately with the games or show. But. If they lose the spirit of Pokemon, sometimes, the story doesn't fit together.
For instance, talking Pokemon. So far as we know in the game/anime canon, only legendary, very telepathic, parrot-ey, or Team-Rocket-main-character Pokemon can talk. Talking Pokemon are popular in stories. This is fine. However, there should usually be a reasonable explanation. Lab-induced mutations? Strong psychic powers? An alternate universe where all Pokemon can talk?
It's not even necessary, given that Pokemon and humans generally make themselves understood to each other anyway.
There's also the deeper issue of general plausibility. This stuff is easy to understand. Plot holes, people acting out of character, descriptions of the same object changing between paragraphs, egregious violations of the laws of physics or narrative. Does the protagonist suddenly transform into Mr. T? Does a Poke Ball alternate between being a Great Ball and a Net Ball? Did the writer leave a character dangling off the cliff then completely forget about him or her? Point out any niggles like this.
The purpose of a URPG story is the capture of Pokemon. Most stories feature an actual capture attempt in the plot itself, even if this is not necessary. However, the Pokemon listed for capture must show up in the story somewhere. The harder the Pokemon is to capture, the more important to the story it must be. A Porygon-Z story had better have that Porygon-Z do something interesting. Cameos aren't enough.
If the story puts the capture before the end and continues on after the Pokemon is captured, this is still fine. It is necessary, in fact, for multiple-capture stories. Don't worry about that.
Again, the common practice of ending the story on a "will the Poke Ball work?" situation is not necessary. If you see a promising writer using this mechanism over and over again, let them know that other endings are possible. A lot of competition entries end stories in creative ways.
The Personal Opinion
You, the grader, are human. Take advantage of that. If you have some sort of gut feeling about the story, listen to your gut. Don't base your entire grade around it, but it may influence your decision when the story quality is on the borderline. However, remember to grade based on the story, not the writer. Who wrote it is irrelevant. If you dislike someone, do not touch their stories!
Most borderline stories can be bumped up to "capture" on principle. I would recommend doing so, generally. However, if a writer has been posting a lot of borderline captures lately, let them know. It'd be bad if they decided to do a Stupefying next, 'r something, and were horribly surprised when they didn't capture it the first time.
You should take into account the writer's previous works only for figuring out if you can do a more complex grade on a longer (60k+) story. If the same issues always come up in previous grades and they've shown up yet again, point 'em out again and shake your e-fist gently. First-time or sophomore efforts, though, should be graded really nicely. They should rarely fail. However, if it's a good story, it's a good story... so pass it!
The First Story
First stories are usually sketchy. The writer is still learning the rules and how to tell a good story. Helpful feed back is useful. Encouragement is most important. Don't drown them in complex theory, or even simple theory. Help them float, even moreso than you would an experienced writer. Your goal here, as always, is not just to evaluate the story but to guide the writer into understanding what a storyteller can be, and that they can be one.
First stories should generally be passes under pretty much any situation.
You should have both positive and negative aspects in your grade. Don't roast the writer under any circumstances; do include suggestions for how to improve their writing. Don't gush without content; do praise what they did well. Constructive criticism is the best kind; remember to leave the writer with the feeling that they can, will, and want to improve their writing (either for their next story, or the regrade).
Pick whichever of the above sections you feel would be the most helpful in evaluating this story. The plot is the most important part, though; is it a good story? Is it fun? Is it a rousing tale? Does it measure up to the level of the Pokemon the author wants? Your true objective is to help your author become a confident writer who is always seeking self-improvement. More than that, don't just try to turn them into a carbon copy of your favorite type of writing. Show them how to improve what they're already doing; recommend techniques or ideas that mesh well with their style and voice. Don't tell them they're doing something wrong (unless it's grammar)... show them how they can do it better. (If he or she writes much better than you do, you might want to call for help from a more experienced grader, if such a person exists.) Don't discourage them; show them that they've got the right skills and they know how to use them.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 06:08 PM.
Reason: JUST BOLDING AN IMPORTANT BIT
12th April 2010, 09:57 AM
This system has been created by Galleon and tweaked by EmBreon. And then tweaked again by both of them. And you don't really care, anyway, do you? Honestly, just skip to the next part, already. Gah.
A post is 5,000 characters.
Starting Value (one 5k)
Weak Grade = $500 + $100 x (each 5k after)
Basic Grade = $2,000 + $200 x (each 5k after)
-Strong Basic: +1k
Moderate Grade = $5,000 + $500 x (each 5k after) = TOTAL EARNED
-Strong Moderate: +2k
Complex Grade = $7,000 + $1,000 x (each 5k after)
Extensive Grade = $10,000 + $2,000 x (each 5k after)
So the amount of money earned for each grade is first determined by the grade itself. A weak grade gives one or two sentences comments about the story, and may also give very brief suggestions about how to improve the story. A moderate grade provides a good amount of information and gives helpful tips. An extensive grade brings insightful assistance in a way that is clear and accessible to the author (not some stupid ranting).
As an example, using this system, a moderate grade for a story that is 15,000 characters would receive… 5000 + (500 x 2) = $6,000. A weak grade for the same story would receive… 500 + (100 x 2) = $700. And an extensive grade for the same story would receive… 10,000 + (2000 x 2) = $14,000.
Payout is also on a wage multiplier of 1.1, that increases by an additional .1 for every grade after. Maximum multiplier is 1.8.
A grade that is deemed ‘unacceptable’ (mocking the reader and such) may not be awarded any money.
Length should be properly rounded; 22K is closer to 20K than 25K.
So. If you want to see random examples, I grabbed stuff from a specific wages group and hyperlinked people to grades that got the various ranks.
What each rank means
Weak: $500 (100)
One or two sentences per category, providing very little feedback on the story. These are what we call "crap grades." Try to avoid them.
Basic: $2,000 (200)
A bit of decent feedback, but nothing with any particular depth to it. These grades are generally kinda vague and only make some surface-level observations about the story. However, these grades are just fine for simpler or shorter stories, because in the easier difficulties, a lot of writers make the same general mistakes and need the same general advice.
Moderate: $5,000 (500)
A good amount of decent feedback. These grades point out the most relevant and important issues for the writer to work on. The difference between a Basic and Moderate grade: a Basic grade could be tweaked in one or two places and make perfect sense if posted for another story. A Moderate grade is specific to its story. This is the rank that every grader should try to maintain all the time.
Complex: $7,000 (1000)
A lot of helpful feedback. These grades are quite elaborate and provide very clear and helpful information for the writer. These grades address specific concerns for each story individually, digging deeper into the story than a Moderate grade would. This doesn't mean nitpicking; this means looking for patterns in the story, looking for literary devices, as well as providing feedback on how well these things were done or how they could be improved. Both Complex and Extensive grades may be very unconventional. Not every story needs this kind of grade, though. Don't try to do a complex grade for a friggin' Magikarp story or something similar.
Extensive: $10,000 (2000)
Very in-depth and packed with helpful feedback. These bad boys don't just provide a lot of feedback, though; they provide feedback that is not generally seen in most grades, feedback that looks deeper into the story than the other ranks do, analyzing all the important areas of the story with a very attentive eye. These kinds of grades are rare and often, not at all necessary, so don't try to go for Extensive all (or even most of) the time.
|| Important Note ||
Length won't determine ranking. Naturally, Complex and Extensive grades will be pretty long, but that's only because they need that much length in order to give as much help as they do. Dragging a grade out with rambling, vague, or irrelevant information won't improve a grade's ranking at all.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 06:09 PM.
1st September 2010, 10:49 PM
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
HOW TO NOT GRADE LIKE A JERK
A guide on how to not grade like a jerk, by George and Emma
This concerns all present Graders, and Graders-to-Be.
We didn’t think a post of this caliber was necessary, but it has become apparent that there are still several misconceptions about the Grading standard in general. So here we are to clear them up for you in one MEGA GIANT, kinda big but not really, post.
Let us start from the beginning.
Every Grader has their own criteria and layout they use when formulating a grade.
Introduction-Story-Plot: Firstly, summarizing the story does not affect how strong the grade is. Seriously. It is unnecessary to tell the author all about the story they just wrote. It's not like recaps are bad, though. They're just not good, either. Our guess is that the folks who tend to do this are assuming that it will make their grade look longer, therefore granting them more payout. We’ll call this misconception number 1 - a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay.
The main purpose of this section is to simply discuss your likes, dislikes, opinions, and any other criteria you feel is necessary to mention here. Give them feedback; tell them what they could improve on in your eyes, and most importantly: remain encouraging. We’ve seen too many derogatory grades taking place here. What constitutes a good story, what constitutes a bad story. These are not things for us to decide. Our job, as Graders, is to help. We aren't here to tear people apart for making mistakes.
Grammar-Spelling: As straightforward as this area may be, there are a couple things every Grader should know and realize. The first, being the fact that nit-picking a story of every typo and minor error is, again, unnecessary. The writer will never remember what you’ve told them if you pack them with piles of boring (that's right: boring) information.
So now you might be thinking, What’s the point of this section then?
Well, the point is to assist them with repetitive grammar errors. If they are constantly mistaking ‘it’s’ for ‘its’ or continuously misspelling a word, then have at it. Point it out. Just don’t go overboard. If you have to scroll through this section for more than two seconds, then a red flag should go up telling you that it is too much.
Some comments have come back to me that people make multiple grammar-correcting quotes thinking it will make their grade appear longer, therefore granting more pay. Well, think again. We’ll call this misconception number 2- a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay.
Detail-Description: Be specific. Please, don't just tell people to "add more description." What kind of description? Where should they add more? Is it adjectives they’re lacking or should things be spiced up with figures of speech?
Also, keep in mind that this section is heavily based upon your personal opinion. Two people could read the same sentence and gather an entirely different perspective on how to improve it. Make sure your suggestions in this area are not demanding an author renounce their style to simply fit yours.
Length: The character-limits that have been created for each Pokemon are not set in stone. It is recommended that the author try to reach the suggested amount of characters. You should not base your outcome off of this. Length is not an issue when it comes to the story’s overall quality.
Battle: As seems to be misinterpreted, the battle is not the most important aspect of the story. In truth, the story is actually the most important part of the freaking story. In fact, if the overall story is strong, then an actual "Pokemon battle" per se, isn't even necessary, really.
The author shouldn’t feel so limited when writing here, and to be honest, a lot of story battles seem more like an afterthought than actual plot-driven events. Yes, it is important that they attempt to capture their Pokemon in some fashion, but the actual 'capture' does not have to be a traditional Poke Ball capture. In fact, it can be very abstract, even metaphorical, if the author wishes. Therefore, as the grader, you should consider how that capture affects the rest of the story. For instance, if the story ends with the Pokemon dying, instead of just being captured, then how does that character's death impact everything else? Did it feel like an important element of the story? As both writers and reviewers, these are the kinds of questions that we should ask if we are to help others, as well as ourselves, improve.
However, if you only remember one thing about this, you should remember that stories shouldn’t be failed based solely on the battle.
The most important key points every Grader should take with them are A) to always be as encouraging as possible, and B) longer grades don’t always grant more pay.
In fact, many stories shouldn’t even receive such massive grades at all, especially when it comes to newer writers. Keep your advice simple and to the point, and be as nice as possible. We do want them to come back!
And lastly, you should enjoy grading! You don’t have to write so much people…really. If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to find things to lengthen your grade, just remember misconception number 3- a long grade does not necessarily mean you will receive more pay. A Moderate length grade can receive Extensive pay, and vice versa. It all comes down to the things you say and how you say them. Yes, having some length is preferable, but as long as it is simply a few paragraphs, there is no problem with it. Don’t feel forced to always make your grades so lengthy.
In short, a lot of graders have been making things harder than they really need to be, so everyone just needs to relax and stop grading like freaking Nazis. And yes, Nazis were known for being very harsh graders. Don't look it up.
HOW TO NOT GRADE LIKE A JERK v.2.0
To begin with, the current situation is no one's fault. I think it is a combination of miscommunication and too many people handling the wage process. Grades are subjective. It's not just counting numbers and adding them into a final total. There is analyzing involved, and the requirement of reading every single grade from start to finish. Having said this, unless you are capable of writing a grade at the highest skill level, it isn't possible for you to appropriately handle giving out wages. This resulted in improper pay being given out regularly (Moderate grades being paid Basic, Complex being called Moderate, etc. and vice versa). From here, after being paid less than they should have actually earned, people assumed that each category was in fact more difficult than it actually was. This made them feel like they needed to critique way more than they had to, and ended up severely increasing the story and grading standard.
Issue 1) The Problem With Over-Grading
--The Payout: Everyone should remember that this is, actually, a game. It should be fun; that's why we play it, right? Jobs keep the game going. Out of all the URPG careers, Grading probably requires the most time, effort, and overall work. It is why the payout potential is so high, and why the wage system was created to reflect just how much effort was put in. Problem is, if people are putting in hours of Complex level work and getting paid for Moderate, they'll be seriously underpaid for that amount of effort and more than likely not have a strong desire to continue grading with so little reward.
--The Grader: Straining your grade for content takes the enjoyment out of reading the story. This makes your job even more of a chore. What used to be a decently-written, average story becomes a less appealing one; and, what should have originally been a capture, becomes a fail because of the mistakes you were actually looking to exploit in your grade. -All because you needed more advanced content. Or at least, thought you needed it.
--The Author: Everything else aside, this is the person that gets the most out of your grade. It should be custom to both their story and them. Just because you want more money, does not mean you should over-analyze a story that does not require it in attempt of a higher level grade. It is incredibly discouraging to the person who wrote the story. Anyone who has written anything and allowed someone else to read it knows that feeling of helplessness and insecurity of putting part of themselves out there. If you want to be paid more money, help the author with encouragement and constructive criticism. This will make them want to write more stories because you've both helped them become better, and made them comfortable enough to write again. More stories = more money.
Issue 2) The Grading Categories and What They Should Actually Be
-- In The Grading Group thread, inside the post about wages, there are linked examples of a grade that falls within each category, as well descriptions of what each rank actually means. These are spot on. Notice that length has little to do with what makes them categorized how they are. You don't need a 40k Grade to be Extensive. The content determines the category, not the length. Bringing up vague suggestions like "this needs more frequent descriptions and a clearer setting" will land you in Basic. Consistent remarks on more specific things such as character development, adjectives, and repetitive grammar errors falls into Moderate. You head into Complex and Extensive when you delve into the raw meat of the story - finding patterns, loopholes, inconsistencies; analyzing the mood, character motives, and flow; spotting technical uses of alliterations and allusions and etc. It requires a heavy knowledge of literature, and these types of grades should be reserved ONLY for the very experienced author.
Complex and Extensive grades were actually designed to be obtainable (shocking, I know), just meant to be reserved for the more lengthy and advanced stories. I did see several of you guys actually give some Complex level grades correctly, but they were paid as Moderate. 3:
As for Weak grades, yes, they are frowned upon. A Weak grade is one or two sentences of unhelpful summarization. A lot of Basic grades in the past were being wrongfully called Weak. This is a Weak grade. However, though it is preferable to always aim for Basic and above, it is understandable for Weak grades to occur in Easiest rank stories for those Magikarp and Caterpie captures - especially if it was written by an experienced author. 3k is not much to analyze if it is void of the typical grammar errors and repetitive plot.
Grades should be to-the-point. Ramblings do nothing but bore the author and make them begin to forget what you are actually talking about. Short length is OK. In fact, short length is GOOD for 80% of stories posted. If the author of a shorter story specifically requests a long and intense grade, then sure, have at it. Just please put that at the beginning or end of the grade, or I will probably bite you any time I do wages. Don't overwork yourselves, guys. Moderate grades should be Moderate. You will be paid appropriately.
How We Fix It
A lot of our members are young kids. Keep this in mind when you are grading. It is a game for all ages, and the standard feels more up to college level. Heck, most of my professors didn't even give such intense critiques of my writing that a lot of these grades are. It's wonderful how much the stories section helps people's writing skills, but over-analyzing every Joe's story is actually more detrimental than it is constructive. Improvement is something that happens over time and practice, with consistent doses of positive reinforcement. One whopping grade smacked onto the end of a short story won't help either of you.
As the ALMIGHTY GRANNY (and Kat too), we're going to try and monitor the grading process a bit more efficiently. If you take anything from this, please let it be that simpler is better. You should notice more money coming your way in the future, and for less work. THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAVE A JOLLY DAY. And some cake.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 06:10 PM.
17th September 2010, 05:38 PM
Re: The Grading Group & Grader Information
A FEW BASIC RULES
- Do not write a whole bunch of Weak grades for any reason.
- If a writer isn't interested in feedback and you know it, give them a good Basic grade that won't take much of your time (or theirs). BUT, don't give them an awful grade.
- Don't fail Magikarp fics. The exceptions: 1) The story is way too short. 2) The story is pretty much unreadable. 3) The Pokémon they're trying to capture isn't in the story. 4) The story is in a unique format, is pretty borderline, and you really feel like the author didn't put much effort into it. [As articulated by Alaskapigeon.]
- Even if the evolved form of a capture dominates the story, if a writer wants to capture the unevolved form, it must be present in some sense.
- Don't pass stuff that shouldn't be passed, sure, but don't overcompensate. More stories should be passed than failed. Our goal is to produce good advice for new writers, not beat everyone into producing literature.
- Don't try to turn a new writer into a mimic of your favorite style. Figure out what they're trying to do, what their style is and their strengths are, and teach them how to do it better.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 06:10 PM.
10th December 2013, 11:23 PM
Head of Stories
Re: The Grading Group & Grading Guide
Each story needs to be graded as if you were actually grading an author's story. That means you need to include categories and give an outcome. If you are confused as to how this is supposed to be done, I suggest getting a little more experience first and then reading the grading guide in this thread. Once you have both grades and the grammar section answers completed, send them to an active tester.
It had been six years to the day since the death of Rachel’s older sister, although it seemed more like an eternity to the Halden family. Maya had been on an errand when a renegade pack of Houndoom, threatened by the sudden appearance of a human girl near their territory, thought nothing more than to sink their fangs into her flesh, ending her life in flashes of scarlet and obsidian; causing one of the greatest tragedies the city of Lilycove had ever seen. She was nothing more than an auburn haired girl in black and white now, her dress contrasting sharply with her dirt-stained knees.
“If only I could see you again, Maya,” Rachel whispered, tears sliding down her face as she closed the photo album. She ran one of her hands over the glossy cover, a smile briefly crossing her face as she thought back to happier times. Her memories soon became muddled with more tragic events, as was usually the case, and she thought back to the funeral procession, a sea of black with somber, unsmiling faces. She started to focus on the hounds then, their flanks black as the night as they pounded after her sister, forked tails sharp as their teeth…
Rachel shook her head, tossing the album onto the table beside her. She had promised for the sake of her sister that she would never think of such dark thoughts again, although there were many times where she wondered how such events had transpired. Wild Pokemon tried their best to stay away from humans, and even when they managed to cross paths, attacks were never reported. Why was it then that Maya entered an alley one night, only to be mauled by those vicious Houndoom? It just did not make sense to her.
With trembling hands, she opened the window to the study and let the wind wash over her skin, sighing. Although the breeze helped temporarily, it could never heal the scars that Maya’s passing had created. She waited until she felt chilled enough to take the pale sweater she had placed over the sofa, her green eyes dull as rocks as she turned from the window.
<Rachel>, a voice called to her from the fog, eerie yet achingly familiar. <Come back and look to the elm, Rachel.>
The teenage girl froze where she stood, the sweater falling from her hands to the floor in a cream colored waterfall. It seemed as though someone was calling her, but it could easily have been nothing more than her imagination. Rachel proceeded towards the door, suspecting that all she needed was more sleep.
<Look to the elm tree.>
The voice was feminine, that much she could tell. There was also something about it that she could not quite put her finger on, no matter how much she replayed the message over and over in her head.
“This is silly,” she said to herself, forcing a laugh as she walked back towards the window. She forced it open with both hands and looked out towards the giant elm tree that had been planted in the back, her thoughts shifting to Maya once more. When they were just children, they had spent hours beside that tree, whether it was climbing it or having lunch with their parents near the aged, mahogany trunk. Rachel’s black hair fell against her face as she focused on a solitary shadow that sat on one of the branches, and no sooner than she had done that than the figure, a great bird, spread its wings wide and flew towards the window.
With a scream, Rachel ducked her head as the bird crashed into her house and flew all around the small room, knocking into objects as though her wings were too heavy a burden to carry. It eventually landed next to Rachel, and she could see that its feathers were white and black, while its head was adorned with gray and red feathers, almost like a veil. She backed away, calling for the creature to leave as she took the lamp from the table and swung it around like a bat. The great bird only tilted her head to the side, seemingly amused.
<I’m happy to see you as well,> a voice chuckled, and Rachel looked around for the source of the sound, certain that the creature before her could not be communicating telepathically. She pressed her hands against her head and squeezed her eyes shut, as though trying to block out the words that sprang uninvited to her mind once more. <Don’t be afraid, Rachel. Do you not know who I am?>
“What are you?” she screeched, terrified. She recognized her visitor as a Pokemon, but this one seemed different. Not only did it sound like someone she had once known, but there was an air to the creature that signified that it had endured much sorrow and pain, a heaviness only known by a human heart. She picked up the lamp once more and flung it carelessly, but the bird dodged it with ease.
<Stop fighting it, sister. If you let me, I will explain everything to you.> The bird’s shiny black eyes bored into Rachel’s, and it occurred to the teenager that the voice she was hearing belonged to just one person, although she had died years before…
It was impossible. “M-Maya?” she stammered, and the great beast spread her wings wide, which were lined with silver and black streaks. She clucked, looking about the room as though the idea of a human trapped inside the body of a Pokemon was nothing new. <You got it, finally. It’s been far too long since I was here.> Her gaze roamed across the mint and pink wallpaper and back to Rachel, her feathers a violent splash of color against the bright room. Rachel stood up from the floor in a daze, still unable to believe what was happening.
“This is just a dream,” she muttered, pinching her arm as hard as she could. Maya shook her feathered head, her talons rapping against the wooden floor as she walked about the study. She kept her glossy eyes trained on the statues that adorned the fireplace, as though ashamed to be in the presence of her younger sister in her current state.
<Despite what you might think, I am your sister. I found myself reincarnated as a Mukuhawk only recently, and the only thing I can tell you now is that you are correct in thinking that my death was not an accident.>
Rachel turned to the bird, her eyes wide. “So that means…”
Maya nodded, the gray feathers covered her face appearing even more downcast. <There were many things I kept from you and our parents. I worked for someone very powerful when I was your age, and I betrayed him after I saw him for the tyrant he really was. The Houndoom that attacked me in the alley belonged to his subordinates, and were sent by them to eradicate me for all the misery I had caused to their organization.>
The teenager blinked her emerald eyes several times before speaking. “Are you saying that you angered this company so much when you were my age that they put a death warrant on your head? Do you know what we have been going through for the past six years, Maya?”
The bird bowed her head, and she began to speak quietly. <I have not been immune to your grief, sister. Truth be told, I do not know how this happened, but I came to you because I do not know how long I will be like this. I want you to help me with my mission before I leave for good, if that should ever come to pass.>
Rachel’s eyes were streaked with tears, but she knew she could not refuse her sister, even if she was standing before her in the form of a strange bird, and even though all of this did not seem real. “What would that be?”
Maya looked her in the face, her eyes glittering dangerously. <I have come back for revenge.>
At her dead sister’s command, Rachel began to pack her belongings into the small bag she used for school, stuffing as many pairs of jeans and shirts she could manage before it threatened to burst open from the strain. Maya sat on the blue and white bed that had once belonged to her, the winged shadow she cast appearing unnatural under the dull light of the small room.
<I am glad that you’re coming with me, Rachel,> she whispered, clacking her beak in thanks. <It can’t be easy for you.> Rachel looked to her and snorted with contempt, throwing a yellow shirt that did not agree with her to the floor.
“Believe me, I’m just waiting until I wake up,” she snapped. “Why don’t you see mom and dad about all this, anyway? You have a lot to answer for.” she instantly felt sorry as the words left her mouth, but Maya did not acknowledge this, choosing only to play with a loose thread on the blanket with her claws. Rachel gulped, expecting a scolding for her venomous remark, but it never came.
<I have caused mother and father enough sorrow,> Maya replied at last, turning to look out the window at the evening sky. <I don’t want to hurt them anymore. The only reason why I have involved you is because I believe you’re the only one who can help me. I can’t do this alone in my current state.> She said this with regret, and they both gazed at the glittering stars outside, each thinking of different things. Rachel broke the silence after a minute or two, closing the bag she had been packing her clothes into shut as she did so.
“Is there anything else you can tell me about these people you worked with?” she asked, biting her lip. Maya pondered this for a second, and Rachel wondered if it was too forward of her to have asked.
<They specialized in genetic research,> her sister replied, indicating her snowy head towards the mountains to the east. <They worked in secret around Mossdeep City, and I helped them with errands every now and then after school. I was introduced to the company when I met one of the scientists on a camping trip and learned from him, which furthered my interest in that field.>
“I remember you saying that once,” Rachel replied, tucking a strand of her black hair behind her ears. Maya stared at her with silent jealously, unable to think of the last time she had been able to do such a simple gesture. As a bird, she had lost many of the things she had been able to do as a human, and that pained her almost as much as her passing had done. Not wanting to trouble her sister any more than she had in the past hour, she continued her tale.
<In time, I was assigned more complex assignments. The overseer trusted me, but I eventually came to realize just what we were doing after an … accident took place.> she turned away, and her voice soon became ragged, like a saw. <I knew what would happen if I alerted the authorities to their presence, but I did it anyway. I turned on them, and we both know what happened as a result of that.>
Rachel opened her mouth to speak, but found that she could not. She walked towards the bed and sat down, stroking the tawny feathers of the creature that claimed to be her older sister. “I am sorry,” she whispered. “I did not know you went through that much.”
Maya shook herself off, as though an insect had begun crawling on her. <I no longer care for those people. After what they did, I would gladly risk my life to see to it that they are stopped once and for all.> Before Rachel could reply, the bird began to laugh in harsh, quick bursts. <It’s a strange irony, don’t you think? They took so many lives, but they could not kill me.>
Rachel stood up from the bed quickly, grabbing the green duffel bag that was filled with her things. “Do you think we should start moving out? I think I’ve got everything covered, although I was not sure what kind of food to bring.”
Maya stretched out her wings, and Rachel could see for the first time that the gray and white feathers were stained with red flecks. Before she could decipher if they were markings or something else entirely, Maya tucked them back to her sides and turned towards the younger woman, her eyes flashing under the full moon.
<I’ll be fine with whatever you bring. Let us leave before it grows too dark.> With that, Rachel extended her hand and Maya flew towards her, grasping onto her pale hand with her talons, which she carefully adjusted so as not to hurt her sister. After turning off all the lights of the house, Rachel made her way to the front door and walked into the howling wind, unsure if the telepathic bird she carried with her could really contain the soul of someone she had lost so long ago.
Maya turned her head to see the Halden estate once again, but it had already become nothing more than a red dot in the distance. She shivered from the cold, her feathers rustling as they grew further away from their house with each step. The Mukuhawk wondered if she had only dragged her sister down into her own grave, as she had once done to herself six years prior. The very thought chilled her to the bone.
“I hope you know that you’re the only Pokemon I have with me,” Rachel sighed, taking a pair of striped mittens from her pack and shoving her hands into them. “Well, technically speaking, that is.” She squinted, attempting to find the dirt road that connected their town to the rest of the world through the fog with little success.
<What do you mean?> Maya asked, looking up at the younger woman from her perch on her delicate wrist. <You’ve been a Pokemon trainer for years, like I once was.>
Rachel shook her head, and her green eyes seemed to darken. “After you died, I could not look at them the same way. I gave away my starting Pokemon, Claydol, and have not done anything related to them since. I get the feeling that’s going to change, though.” She wrinkled her nose and frowned, as though the very thought of those creatures were just dreadful.
<You shouldn’t view them like that just because of an accident,> Maya replied, but the expression on her sister’s face remained unchanged. <On top of that, those Houndoom were being controlled by my former master. There was nothing they could have done.>
The teenager froze, her face changing from sour to scared in less than a second. “What do you mean by that, exactly? Just following orders, or…”
Maya shook her head, sadly. <One of the projects the organization had been working on involved genetic alteration. While I worked for them, it had only been in the beginning stages, but it seems as though they have mastered the art of splicing the DNA of their Pokemon so that they cannot disobey orders, despite how immoral they could be.>
Rachel stopped walking and blinked several times before speaking, her eyes wide as saucers. “That kind of scientific breakthrough is huge. If it was used against everyone else…”
<Now you know why I had to leave them,> Maya said, solemnly. <Even then, who knows what else they could have accomplished with that power in the years that they were unknown to everyone.>
Rachel nodded, deciding it best to end the conversation there. Truth be told, she was terrified with the information her sister had supplied her with so far. These people had the ability to dominate the wills of living creatures, which had to mean that they were capable of much worse. If Maya had been in danger once before, then there was no telling what that meant for her, if news of them ever traveled to this organization. She gulped, not pleased with the idea of them being turned into human guinea pigs.
“W-we’re going the long way to Mossdeep City,” she said after minutes of silence, hoping that this would somehow lighten the mood. “As you’ve probably noticed, we lack the tools and Pokemon needed to travel across the ocean, so we’re going to get transportation at Slateport.”
Rachel looked over to the Mukuhawk for approval, but she seemed disgruntled with this news. Maya made a low noise in the back of her throat, and the teenager took it to mean that she would go along with this plan for now. <I suppose that will do, unless we find other means of traversing the sea,> she grumbled. Rachel thought about telling her that her plans of revenge would have to wait at least for a week or so given their situation, but decided against it. She had already been through enough, it seemed.
The scenery changed as they continued to walk south from the road, and they were soon surrounded by trees that were viridian as the lush grass around them, with trainers of all shapes and sizes scoring the bushes for wild Pokemon. Lilycove had been a city erected near the sea, containing elaborate houses and the famous contest hall, where trainers from all across the world came with their Pokemon to compete in pageant-like competitions. From here on out, it would take days of travel until they could reach Fortree, which was unique in that their inhabitants lived in the very things the town was named after.
People turned to watch the girl with the strange bird at her side as they pushed through the foliage, Rachel using her hands while the Mukuhawk tore with her sharp talons and pointed beak. The red-tipped plume over her head wobbled from the effort, and the trainers began to whisper along themselves as to what these two strangers were doing on the road at this time of night. Even Rachel could sense that something in the air seemed strange, although she could not figure out what it was.
<Be cautious,> Maya whispered, and Rachel wondered if everyone in the area could “hear” her sister if she spoke too loudly. <In my experience, humans can be very cruel creatures. Why are they staring at us so intently?>
“Well,” Rachel began, digging a hand into her bag to make it seem as though she was doing something, “the species of bird you have become was only recently discovered in the region of Shinou. I suspect that these people might be curious, or have different motives entirely.” Maya looked down at herself, as though just discovering her gray and black feathers and her white breast, and she suddenly spread her wings wide, a warning to those who stepped too close. A young boy in jeans and an orange jacket standing just a few feet away from them yelped, as though something far more terrifying had surprised him. He stared at the bird and trembled, leaving the sisters to cast bewildered looks at one another.
<I don’t like the atmosphere at all,> Maya said, urging Rachel to continue walking forward. <I sense something is amiss here.> The girl had pulled a bag of chips from her pack to make it seem as though she was doing something besides communicating with the hawk perched on her shoulder, but she had started to notice that people were peering at them like they were from a different planet.
“Maybe they just want my food,” she joked, but Maya pressed her beak onto the back of her neck, and that ended the discussion. The pair continued on their journey, unaware that they were being followed by a man and a woman dressed in the same, charcoal colored trench coat.
“That must be her,” the man hissed. He had eyes and hair the color of slate, with a sharp, weasel-like face. “Wouldn’t you say that Mukuhawk matches the description Natol gave us?”
He turned to his partner, who motioned for them to wait for the girl and her bird to disappear down the road. As soon as they vanished into the trees and fog, the woman, who had pale hair and a caramel complexion, spoke with a voice like sweet wine.
“Natol is never wrong about these kinds of things,” she replied, in an almost condescending tone. “So, that is the girl he used to speak so fondly of. It’s a shame that what happened six years ago came to pass.” The man nodded at this, but his expression showed that he thought otherwise. The people milled around them eyed them with distrust, but they did not speak, even as the pair stood up from their places behind the bushes and brushed themselves off, watching the path Rachel and the Mukuhawk had traveled down hungrily. The man reached one of his filthy hands into the pockets of his coat and gave coins to the trainers, thanking them for their cooperation.
“So, what should we do now?” the man wondered, shooting his partner a pained sneer. “We should just follow them and get this over with. I’m tired of sneaking around like this, Hyacinth.”
“We must wait until the time is right,” the woman whispered, but even she did not know how long she could continue this chase.
“Well, you made me look like a fool back there,” Rachel muttered as they trudged down the path. A light rain had begun to fall, and she groaned as her feet sloshed through the mud, ensnaring her tennis shoes in pools of wet earth. She ripped her shoes from the ground as Maya shrugged her tiny shoulders, her bead-black eyes staring out into the darkness. They had both grown tired, but it would take another couple of hours before reaching Fortree City.
<I am sorry, but something wasn’t right about that place,> the Mukuhawk shuddered, unable to shake the feeling that they were being watched. <I am glad we’re away from there, at least. Do you think we should camp around here for the night?>
The sky was afire with deep blue and violet hues, signifying the arrival of dusk. No clouds could be seen, and everything was covered with a shroud of darkness. Rachel sighed, picking at her damp clothes and looking around for a suitable spot.
“In this weather?” she asked, frowning at her sister. Her deep colored feathers were dotted with tiny beads of water, which she shook off before replying.
<I’m afraid so. We should get some rest before heading to Fortree, anyway. What about that patch of grass over there?> she pointed towards it with her wing, and Rachel took the sleeping bag she had packed into the duffel she carried with her, shaking her head with disgust. Before the pale skinned girl could roll it onto the ground, however, something rustled in the trees next to them. Maya snapped her head in the direction of the sound in an instant, calling for her sister to stand back.
From the foliage emerged a thin, tattered man in a gray coat, with beady eyes and a large grin that took up most of his face. His features were angular, almost bestial in nature and his hair stuck out in all directions, matted and black. Maya froze from her spot on Rachel’s shoulder and her beak opened many times before she uttered a name, her voice hoarse.
The man chuckled, pointing a finger towards the Mukuhawk as though he had just found the answer to an age-long question. “I knew it was you, Maya. The boss told me that you were here, but only Hyacinth and I were brave enough to come out and return you to him.”
<Hyacinth is part of this as well?> Maya cried, shaking her head in disbelief. <If you think I am stupid enough to return to that place, Lupin, you are mistaken. I will never help you or your friends ever again.>
Rachel looked from the man and back to her sister, wondering just what in the world was going on. Before she could speak, Lupin staggered forward and reached for the strange bird, but Maya spread her wings wide and flew onto a tree branch, causing the man to stumble, his arms moving around like snakes. Rachel jumped before her sister, her eyes narrow as slits, daring the man to cross any further. He only laughed once again, pressing one hand to his wrist and grinning wildly.
“We can do this the hard way, if you insist,” Lupin chortled, closing his eyes. What happened next was simply too much for Rachel to describe. All she could remember was that the ragged looking man was there one instant, and then a smaller, black creature was there the next, with crimson eyes and sharp claws. His ears were elongated, and tipped with pink, and a yellow jewel sat in the middle of its forehead.
Maya almost fell from her spot on the branch, and her eyes were twice their normal size. <A changeling?> she cried, trembling with fear. <This is madness! I never thought Natol would take things this far.>
The dark colored creature, although much different in appearance than Lupin, still wore the same smile. <Foolish girl,> he rumbled, with a voice like chalk scraping against a chalkboard. Rachel pressed her hands against both sides of her face, but it could not block out his telepathic taunts completely. <You should have come with me willingly.>
<I’m surprised Hyacinth isn’t here pulling your leash,> Maya retorted, spreading her wings wide and landing on the ground below her. The Mukuhawk’s laugh was hallow, devoid of emotion. <You were never one to do things by yourself, you coward.>
His head snapped backward, as though she had hit him. Rachel could see now that Lupin had transformed into a Pokemon known as Sneasel, which she reasoned was just perfect for his personality. He folded his clawed arms, as though bored with the conversation, ignoring the previous comment made by his former coworker. The three tails he had shook with anticipation, and it was obvious he had been waiting for this moment.
<Hyacinth is weak,> he said, simply. <She only held me back, but now, I am the one who makes the rules.> With that, he flew at Maya with blinding speed and swiped at her, his wicked claws gracing the side of her face. Blood gushed from the wound in a fountain of crimson as Rachel screamed in terror.
Maya shook herself off, but the sudden attack had left her weaker than she anticipated. The man turned Sneasel smiled as she wobbled forward, blood dripping down the white feathers of her chest. Before she could strike back, he began to move in a quick, rotating circle. He was using Agility, a move that increased speed.
<Rachel,> she called, her voice battered. Blood continued to drip down her feathers, but she ignored the blinding pain and reached out with her mind with all the energy she could summon. <You must call an attack.>
“What?” she whimpered, unable to take her eyes from the changeling. “No, I can’t do this! I told you that I haven’t battled for years.”
<Please,> Maya cried, as she swiped at Lupin with her wings in vain. <I know you do not want to, but I need your help.>
The young woman watched as the Sneasel tore after the starling and raked her with his claws with such brutality that she was knocked over, and Rachel could see in her strange, black eyes that she was calling out to her for help. She turned away, her lip trembling. To see Maya in this state was almost unbearable, but it had been so long since she had participated in a Pokemon battle. She searched her brain for an answer, wondering just what attacks bird Pokemon learned that she could use.
Even after a long hiatus, it came to her naturally. “Wing Attack,” she called. As though suddenly revived, Maya jumped to her clawed feet and rammed her gray wings against Sneasel in a wild flurry, and he clutched at his chest, screeching in anger. He prepared another attack, but Maya dodged it with ease, despite the wound that tied her down.
“Use Double Team to heighten evasion.” The words were out of the teenager’s mouth before she could stop herself, and the starling moved in a circle to create illusory copies of herself, infuriating the Sneasel once more. He fired a chilly blast of wind at Maya, smirking when the attack managed to find its target. Although the move did not seem to cause as much damage as the previous attacks had done, frost began to form around her wings, embedding themselves into her ashen feathers. She tried to move them, but they were frozen to her chest.
“Looks like flying oriented moves won’t work now,” Rachel thought to herself, as the Sneasel struck at the Mukuhawk with his claws multiple times. He hit one of the false copies, however, and it vanished into the fog. The fountains of blood that had resulted from her previous injuries were starting to heal, but Rachel worried that further attacks by the stranger would aggravate them once more. No sooner than the thought occurred to her that Sneasel closed his eyes, and his paws began to glow with a gray light. With one swift strike, he destroyed the second decoy with ease.
<Keep making however many false copies you want,> he sneered, turning towards the real Maya. <I will keep getting through them until you are broken.>
Maya attempted to spread her wings, but they had been rendered useless from the cold. She turned to Rachel, who had been trying to think of another move her species of Pokemon could utilize that did not involve the use of her wings.
“Try a Take Down!” she said, and Maya launched herself like a missile at Sneasel, knocking him square in the chest and onto the ground. He began to tear at her in a frenzy, screaming like a wounded animal. The last copy caused by the Double Team was obliterated, and Maya soon became the target of this vicious assault. She tried to protect herself, but there wasn’t much she could do against this powerful and more experienced foe. Rachel did not know how long her sister would last unless she did not think of something. While the two creatures attacked one another, she began to frantically search her bag for something, anything she could use to assist her sister in this fight. She managed to pull out the handle to something that appeared to be a cooking utensil under the cover of darkness, and decided that it could work after inspecting it for a second or two.
“Use Take Down to send him near me!” she called, and Maya did just that, although it was obvious she was fading fast. Sneasel took one last swipe at her, causing another gush of blood to pour from her chest as she rammed into him, and he landed just a few feet away from the teenager’s feet.
<You will be mine soon enough,> Lupin gasped, holding his sides. Rachel knew she had to act fast if she did not want Sneasel to start attacking Maya once more, and she grasped the handle to the pot she had taken from her bag and smacked it hard against Lupin’s head, and the Sneasel collapsed to the earthen floor before he could react. Rachel imagined that all he could see were stars as he dropped still as a stone, the jewel on his forehead no longer glowing. Maya had managed to come to her side, and she stared at her former friend with an unreadable expression on her face.
<He is out cold for now,> she whispered. <You must subdue him with something before he wakes up. I imagine this is far from being over.>
Rachel turned to the duffel bag and searched it again, hoping that were was a device that would enable her to do just that. She dug her hands all around, and almost gave up, but her hands clasped around something small and circular. She was amazed to see that she had found a dusty, red and white orb resting near the bottom of the bag. It was a Pokeball, and the perfect solution.
“I’m surprised I still have one of these,” she marveled, pressing the silver button placed in the middle of the Pokeball. It expanded to a larger size and she tossed it towards the fallen changeling, who was absorbed in a beam of red light. It soon disappeared and the orb fell to the wet ground, wobbling violently as the two sisters waited for the outcome…
t was a cool rainy day in the city of hearthome in Hoenn. Tia a girl with yellow hair was walking through the pathway so she could enter the spooky town. Tia always was wanted to go to Hearthome since she heard of one pokemon that she could catch there which was a gothita. she thought that gothita were pretty and cute, but they were rare and from unova. Gothita were rare and not many people had them in Sinnoh, but tia heard from her best friend jessie that Gothita were in the forest on the other side of the city, so Tia said to herself “I want to catch that pokemon!”
“Guess what Jessie”? Tia said on her cellphone that she had in her hand.
“are you at hearthome too” Jessie asked through the phone.
Tia scratched her head. she didn’t tell anybody she was coming to Hearthome! “Um yes, I just got here. How did you know that??” Tia asked.
‘Because Im here to!” Jessie said through the phone. tia turned around and saw that her best friend was their! They turn off their phones and ran to each other and gave eachother a hug.
“Are you here too catch a gothita like me,” tia asked to her friend as she pulled away from the hug. I know how much you like them!”
“Yup that’s why I’m here! Gothita are one of my favorite pokemon!” Jessie said with a smile and she swatted her hair out of her face.
“Okay lets get going then.” Tia cheered and started walking towards the forest at the other end of town. Jessie was walking behind her and she was following Tia closely, but not too closely. They told some jokes as they left the town and went into the grass in the forest where they would be able to catch them some gothitas!
“You know how to do this, right?” Jessie asks to her friend but Tia shook her head no. “Are you kidding me! you havent caught a pokemon before? that’s so silly!” Jessie laughed at her friend which made Tia sad.
“My only pokemon was a gift that mr. pokemon gave to me when i was only like seven years old.” Tia sighed and looked at her feet. “But we brought along a pokeball to!”
“Oh right, which pokemon do you have?” Jessie asked completely ignoring Tia’s statement. Tia frowned again but she pulled out a pokeball and tossed it to the ground. A brown pokemon with a old skull on its head appeared after the light. It held a bonestick in its hand and it seemed very very sad. The pokemon screamed Cubone and it tossed the bone that it had in its hand into the air and juggled it.
“Is that a Cubone?” Jessie asked to tia and tia was smiling to say yes. but when Jessie heared what Tia said, she only laughed and gave a mean smile at Tia, which made Tia even more sad. “Cubone aren’t good enough to face a Gothita with! gothita are pokemon that are really strong and Cubones arent able to hurt them since Gothitas can float in the air when they want to! They’re a psychic type.”
“But my cubone is even stronger! Its bone in it’s hand is really affective when its used against floating pokemon.” Tia explained with a pouty face on, but Jessie only laughed more and clapped her hands to be mean.
“that’s not gonna to work, Tia. Gothita are even gooder than your silly cubone. But the gothita won’t stand a chance against my kricketot and me!” Jessie yelled as she dropped her red and white pokeball to the ground. A wierd looking pokemon with red wings and black eyeballs was on the ground by jessies side but it looked very angry. “Kricky is really strong and it has moves that it can use against gothitas for super affective damage!!!”
Tia shrugged, and stared at the little pokemon. “He doesn’t look too strong and scary. I bet the Gothita will be able to take it out!”
“Your so mean, tia!” Jessie screamed at her firend. “I’m going to catch the gothita whether you like it or not and i’m going to do it before you can! Let’s make this a race! Whoever wins is better and doesn’t have to be friends with the loser!”
“thats not a fun race, jessie!” Tia exclaimed which made her cubone cover its ears “me and you should be friends and we shouldn’t let a stinking gothita get between us like that!”
“I don’t care!!!” Jessie interrupted rudely which made Tia cringe. “You cant win against me and i want that Gothita super bad!” she frowned. “you just leave me alone and we’ll see who can catch the gothita first and be the better battler” Jessie stomped off into the forest and away from Tia.
Tia cried when her friend left her. “Jessie is so competetive sometimes...” Tia said to her pokemon that was by her feet. Cubone patted tia on the shin to say sorry, but Tia was too upset. she smacked her hands against her knees, and stood up from her seat on the big grey rock. ‘The only way we can get her to be friends with me is if I win the race!” cubone jumped up in the air and smiled. Tia and her pokemon started walking toward the center of the forest but it got really dark and scary.
“Im scared, Cubby.” Tia shivered as she walked carefully behind her Cubone. there were alot of vines and bushes that were hanging by the path they were walking on and it looked like they were actually monsters. Their was even one that looked like it was black and floating, but wait! That moving vine was actually a Gothita!
“Theyre it is, Cubby!” Tia yelled pointing at the floating Pokemon. “Cmon we can do this! Use bone club!” tia exclaimed and her pokemon nodded and ran up to gothita. it slashed it’s bone at the girly looking pokemon which hit it and hurt it but not by that much. The Gothita just looked more angrier than before.
Uh oh. Tia started to feel dizzy and she didn’t think she could stand up anymore. She put her hand against a near tree to keep her from falling to the ground. but when she put her hand on the tree, it slipped away when Tia realised that it wasnt actually a tree but it was a pokemon named Exeggutor and it started walking away.
“Are you okay, Cubby?” Tia asked to her Cubone but it didn’t nod its head. Cubby was already on the ground, and was passed out from the gothita using it’s powers and putting Cubby to sleep. Tia could already tell that the Gothita was trying to put tia to sleep as well which was obviously working because Tia fell to the ground moments after.
Some hours passed before Tia regained conscienceness. She was all alone in a white bedroom which was surprising since she last remembered being on the middle of the trail in the middle of the woods outside Hearthome. This room was really clean, and but it smelled like medicine and blood. Tia was scared since she was all alone.
“Weres cubby?” Tia asked. she stood up from her bed, and took out the needles that were in her arm. She hurt and and she couldn’t see very well since her eyes hurt a lot, but she took slow steps towards the door on the other end of the room. the room was warm and sunny too because it had a window on the roof. When tia made her way too the end of the room and she looked out the window in the door. it was very very bright and noisy because she were in a pokecenter apparently.
Tia opened the door and she stepped into the hallway but was surprised and scared by a doctor with a breathing mask on. Tia had always been afraid of doctors. She moves down the hall, until she recognizes the front desk and the very happy girl with pink hair named nurse Joy.
“how did I get here, miss?” tia asked to the lady, “i think I was braught here by somebody. or something!” Tia exclaimed and took a seat near the nurses desk.
“Well, i did see a green blob helping carry you here but it left once you were okay. It probably went back to the forest.” The nurse said with a nod to the patient. “I’m sorry, tia but I’m very busy right now and i need you to leave me alone. Please go away.”
Tia backed away offended and left the nurse. I mean who does that? Whatever, tia was very upset anyway. but she still had one question on her mind which was about the green blob thing that had saved her. Was it a pokemon? was it maybe celebi? Tia didn’t know. but she did no one thing and that was that she would have to go back to the forest to find out what it was. She grabbed Cubby’s pokeball from her pocket and tossed it to the ground again before entering the forest. Tia wouldnt let another pokemon get away from her this time!
it didnt take long at all for tia to find the same Gothita as before. It spotted Tia and her Cubone and was about to teleport away and make them sleep but something stopped it dead in it’s tracks. The gothitas’ normally dark blue eyes were glowing a dark green and it didn’t look the same as it did before. the pokemon appears like jelly and it was moving back and forth like a mirage.
“Are you even a Gothita?” Tia asked but her question was already answered because the black floating pokemon turned into a green blob by the time she had already talked. “I guess not,” Tia sighed and was about to move on, but then she remembered the nurses description of the pokemon that had saved her. “did you bring me back to the pokemon center.” Tia asked as she stared at the new pokemon and it nodded. “Thank you a lot, I would have been in major trouble if it weren’t for you!” tia smiled to the pokemon. “Well I guess ill be going now since I still need to catch a Gothita, but thank you.
Tia and Cubone started walking away but the green blob pokemon teleported in front of them. “You want to come with us?” tia asked and the pokemon nodded. “well your a weak pokemon, I dont know if we can have you.” Tia sighed and kept walking.
the pokemon which tia recognized as a Solosis kept teleporting in front of her face and would not let Tia be alone. “Okay fine!”, Tia finally said, “you can come along with us! But only because I need something to show off to Jessie with and she already thinks my Cubby isn’t good. We’re leaving now!” Tia said and solosis squeeked with happy as he floated behind her.
It only took like five minutes for Tia and cubby and solosis to make it out of the forest and when they did they saw Jessie standing at the gateway to the city. She had a bigger pokemon next to her that reminded tia of a bigger Kricky that jessie had earlier. “Kricky mustve evolved during the battle or something.” Tia thought to herself as she walked towards her ex-best friend.
“Lets see what pokemon you caught today,” jessie said with a mean look. Tia sighed but took out her solosis’s Poke Ball and put it on the ground. The embarassing green blob appeared in the middle of the road and stared at Jessie oddly.
“You got a Solosis?” Jessie asked with pretend smile. “Solosis is even lamer than Cubone!” Jessie said laughing.
“No it’s not, okay?” Tia yelled. “Solosis is awesome and it saved my life”, she was very upset at her old best friend. “Solosis isn’t strong but she’s my pokemon so she’s cool. Leave us alone, jessie. you’re just a big bully,” tia said and she turned away from Jessie. “Cmon Solosis and Cubby, let’s leave Jessie and let her be mean alone.” and just like that Tia left her old friend alone at the entrance to hearthome and never saw her again. Her Solosis was strong enough and that’s all that mattered. They left in the sunset happy as three could be.
The purpose of this section is to ensure that you have a basic grasp on correct grammar. You do not need a perfect score, just try your best to answer each question correctly.
Multiple Choice- Choose the number with the correct grammatical form.
1.“Hi Susan how are you?” Said Joe.
2.“Hi Susan, how are you?” said Joe.
3.“Hi Susan, How are you?” said, Joe.
1.“It is 5:30.” Replied Bob.
2.“It is 5:30,” Replied Bob.
3.“It is 5:30,” replied Bob.
1.“I love pancakes.” Marge smiled.
2.“I love pancakes,” Marge smiled.
3.“I love pancakes,” marge smiled.
1.After, she left for work she remembered that she had forgotten her suitcase.
2.After she left for work, she remembered that she had forgotten her suitcase.
3.After she left for work she remembered, that she had forgotten her suitcase.
1.During the trip they went fishing, and dinosaur hunting.
2.During the trip, they went fishing, and dinosaur hunting.
3.During the trip, they went fishing and dinosaur hunting.
1.George forgot his antacids, which didn't help his indigestion.
2.George forgot his antacids which didn't help, his indigestion.
3.George, forgot his antacids which didn't help his indigestion.
1.The boy remembered his eighth birthday party, he was now twelve years old.
2.The boy remembered his eighth birthday party: he was now twelve years old.
3.The boy remembered his eighth birthday party; he was now twelve years old.
1.Jimmy is better then Susan at group activities.
2.Jimmy is better than Susan at group activities.
1.Back then was the happiest time of our lives.
2.Back than was the happiest time of our lives.
1.Its a wonderful day outside of the gym.
2.It’s a wonderful day outside of the gym.
1.That is its location.
2.That is it’s location.
1.Those are their books.
2.Those are there books.
3.Those are they’re books
1.My calculator is over their.
2.My calculator is over there.
3.My calculator is over they’re.
1.Their going to the library.
2.There going to the library,
3.They’re going to the library.
1.The fish were kicking the men, hitting the women, and pat the goat.
2.The fish would kick the men, hitting the women, and pat the goat.
3.The fish were kicking the men, hitting the women, and patting the goat.
1.Yesterday, we went to the store.
2.Yesterday, we go to the store.
3.Yesterday, we gone to the store.
1.The lake contains fish that swam upstream every spring.
2.The lake contains fish that swim upstream every spring.
1.I walked to school yesterday, but later ride the bus home.
2.I walked to school yesterday, but later rode the bus home.
1.The president was elected to lead the country.
2.The President was elected to lead the country.
1.We all think Yellowstone Park is a great place to visit.
2.We all think Yellowstone park is a great place to visit.
3.We all think yellowstone Park is a great place to visit.
4.We all think yellowstone park is a great place to visit.
Correct the following paragraph- Find and fix as many problems as you can.
the young boy woke up one morning and decided today was the day he opened up his curtins to revealed a beautiful sunrise. yawing loudly he heard voices coming from the kitchen. "what is going on Mary?" This voice was deep and loud. "I don't know Joe they were here a second ago." The next voice said. they were his parents voices. the boy assumed his father has lost his keys again but something was strange about his mothers voice. He pretended not hear the two when he walked into the kitchen grabing his backpack and leaving for school. the next day was no different. He awoke as usual, but heard the same arguing voices he listened the day before. "stoppit mary!" his father yelled. "I have done nothing to deserv this!" his mother cried.He heard angry footsteps and then a slamming door. the boy knew that things was not right.
Last edited by Princess Crow; 14th January 2014 at 05:12 PM.