Murmurs in the Dark

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Thread: Murmurs in the Dark

  1. #1
    Jötunn Admiral Loki's Avatar
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    Default Murmurs in the Dark

    *Can't seem to find a tool that lets me rename the thread- just know that it's ready to grade!*
    Target Pokémon – Whismur (Simple)
    Character Range – 5-10K (6,789)
    ---
    Loki relaxed in his swiveling chair, and folded his legs beneath him. He had always had an unusual way of sitting in his seat, but it always seemed to help him concentrate better, for whatever reason. He began twirling his disheveled brown hair between his index finger and his thumb, the way he usually did when he was in deep thought. He paused for a moment to look over at his new partner he had received, a Skorupi that he had named Droma.

    Droma, unlike other Skorupi, was a bright, iridescent green creature, which set it apart from others. Another striking feature was its bright orange eyes, which, right now, were fixed squarely on Loki. The Scorpion Pokémon chittered when Loki looked at it. Loki chuckled, and went back to twirling his bangs.

    “Just having the one Pokémon won’t be good enough in the long run…” Loki murmured to himself. He always had a habit of thinking out loud, as he said it also helped him concentrate. Of course, there have been times where thinking out loud got him into trouble, but the good outweighed the bad in his eyes. “If I’m going to get anywhere, I’m gonna have to catch another Pokémon. Question is though, which one…”

    Letting out a sigh, he pushed his chair over to his laptop and turned on the power. He quickly pulled up several browsers containing loads of information, such as Pokémon that were close by to his relative location. He pulled a notebook out of his backpack, which was leaned against the wall adjacent to his desk, and began furiously taking notes on this information.

    All the while, Droma watched Loki, chittering, as if to ask, “What on earth are you doing?” Of course, Loki couldn’t quite yet understand what Droma was trying to say, but he was quickly figuring it out. It did help that Droma could understand human speech. Half to himself, and half to Droma, he said “Having one Pokémon is great, but my tactical advantage over an opponent would dramatically increase if I were to obtain a second Pokémon.”

    Loki watched for Droma’s response, which was a shrill series of clicks, followed by flailing her forearms. Loki chuckled again, and said “Brute strength isn’t going to win every battle. I learned that much already, and I think you should learn that too. You have to know when to act, and when to plot. In most cases, plotting comes before acting.”

    Droma cocked her head sideways, and Loki laughed. “Don’t worry about it; I’ll teach you.” A beep suddenly came from Loki’s computer, and he quickly turned to face the monitor, sitting up straight instead of slumping, as he usually did. “Whismur, huh? Yeah, I wouldn’t mind having a Whismur on my team. C’mon Droma, we’re headed out!” Loki got up out of his chair and grabbed his backpack, slung it over his shoulders, and stepped outside. Droma followed behind, her legs moving furiously in an effort to keep up with Loki.

    ---

    Loki slowly walked along the forest path, looking through his note that he scribbled two hours earlier. He also brought out a map, unfolded it, and began studying it. Droma followed close behind, taking in all the new sights and smells. “If I’m reading this map right,” Loki thought, “there should be a cave somewhere around here. From what I gather, Whismur like caves…” Loki folded his map back up and shoved it in his pocket. He re-shouldered his backpack, and began walking at a faster pace, with Droma skittering behind him.

    At last, the duo had reached the mouth of a cave: large, jagged rocks pointed out of the cave, and Loki could faintly hear sounds coming out of the cave. He knelt down, took his backpack off, and unzipped the biggest pocket, revealing a pouch full of food for Droma and himself. He took a sandwich out of the pouch and bit into it, and offered a variety of cooked meat, from beef to pork, to Droma, who happily clicked her mandibles together, and began eating as well.

    Once they had finished with their meal, they headed inside the cave. Loki dug around in his backpack for a flashlight, and when he found one, he pulled it out and turned it on, and began sweeping the cave with light in search of a Whismur. When he shone the light on the ceiling, a Zubat swooped down on him, screeching in anger. “Agh! Get off me!” Loki screamed, and began thrashing at his head in an effort to shoo away the Zubat. When the Zubat finally decided to stop attacking him, he slumped up against the side of the cave wall, sighing in relief.

    His heart still pounding, he stayed against the wall for a minute or two before he heard something- almost like someone was whispering. He tried to find the source of the noise, but the echoing of the sound made it near impossible to do. Droma must have heard it too, because she immediately began skittering toward the source of the noise. Loki followed behind her, being careful not to make any more noise.

    As they walked on, the noise became more and more loud; Loki had no doubt in his mind that Droma had found a Whismur. Getting more and more excited by the second, he kept following Droma until she stopped. Loki could clearly hear the sound now, and he looked for the source, when he saw it at last: a sleeping Whismur. “I must have been hearing snoring then… how could it be asleep with my screaming?” Loki thought out loud. The sleeping Whismur suddenly stopped snoring!

    Panic swept through Loki; had he woke the sleeping Pokémon? He saw the Whismur stir, then open its eyes. It was looking straight at Loki. “Uh-oh…” thought Loki. The Whismur then began taking in a gigantic breath- and let loose a scream! Its scream was so ear-piercing that Loki immediately fell to the floor, clutching his ears in pain. Loki began screaming himself, but in pain rather than terror! Droma watched her trainer writhing on the floor in pain, and remembered what he had said earlier- “You have to know when to act, and when to plan. Usually, planning comes before acting.”

    Droma, realizing that she had no time to plan, sprung into action. It ran in front of the screaming Pokémon and used its Scary Face attack, which startled the Pokémon so much that it stopped screaming! She then took advantage of the lull in chaos and used her Poison Fang move, weakening the Whismur so that it wouldn’t scream anymore- however, the attack did more than weaken the Pokémon-

    Droma had accidentally poisoned the Whismur. Not hearing screaming anymore, Loki got up off the floor and looked at the Whismur, and he could tell that he wouldn’t have long to catch it before it fainted because of the poison. Heart racing, and palms sweaty, he dug through his backpack in search of- “Ah ha!” he cried triumphantly, and pulled out a Pokéball. He then tossed it at the Whismur, and saw it go inside the ball. Loki began counting the shakes of the ball…

    “One…”

    “Two…!”
    Last edited by Admiral Loki; 9th July 2011 at 11:27 PM. Reason: Ready to grade!
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  2. #2
    He Sees You... Dog of Hellsing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Murmurs in the Dark

    OMG IT’S MY FIRST GRADE IN FOREVEEEEERRRRRRR! Okay that’s a lie it’s only been like what, a year or longer? Meh, time to blow the dust off these fingers and get a-Gradin’!

    Introduction:
    Hmmmm, the introduction had me thinking of L from Death Note. Dunno if that was intentional or not, but it was pretty neat and I’ll give you a kudo or two for it.

    Other than that, there wasn’t much, in my opinon, to make the introduction stand out and grab the reader’s attention. Yes, Loki has an oddly-colored Skorupi, as well as a peculiar way of sitting, but there’s really nothing going on here that makes the reader HAVE to keep going in order to find out what happens. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need speeding cars, riveting shoot-outs, or exploding buildings to have a good introduction. In fact, things that are blatantly there to get your attention are, to me, as bad as having nothing at all. Subtle hooks work best, getting the reader into the story and making them want to keep reading without them being aware of the fact.

    In the future, try spicing up the introduction a little. Nothing overly dramatic or anything, just something interesting that will pique the reader’s interest and make them say, “Go ooooooon,” in a creepy, drawn-out voice lol. For example, start out describing a brewing storm that’s quickly approaching, or maybe start with a loving scene at a Daycare with a new mother Pokemon cleaning her baby. Things like this will make a reader wonder, “What happened before?” or, “What’s going to happen from here?” and thus, they continue to read in order to learn those questions.

    Now since this is your first story, at least here at BMG, and it’s also just for a Simple Mon, I’m really not going to count this against you. This is just something to keep in mind for the future when you start writing for Porygon-Z and such.

    ===

    Plot:
    Okay, so taking into consideration that, yes, this is your first story (or as far as I can tell it is) and yes, it is for a Simple Mon, I still have to point out that this is a cookie-cutter plot. What that means is this is about as generic a plot as you can get; Trainer wants x Pokemon, Trainer finds x Pokemon, Trainer tries to catch x Pokemon.

    Now believe me, I know how hard it can be to come up with an original plot. There are hundreds of stories and, when you get right down to the bare bones, a lot of them share the same basic plot. But it’s not just the structure of the plot that matters; the detail you put into fleshing it out matters as well. For this story, for example, you could have made it a story like this, but given some oomph to the plot to make it stand out from the many others like it. Perhaps that Zubat from earlier, angered by Loki waking it, decided to take out that irritation on Whismur when it started screaming? And at that point it turns into a battle to help save Whismur. Granted, it’s not much of a twist and it’s still common to see stories revolving around helping Pokemon, but it still makes the story different from your basic “Searches for, finds, battles, catches x Pokemon” plot.

    So, again, with the fact that you’re still a relatively new writer going for something Simple, I’m not going to hold this against you as much as I would someone with more experience or what have you. On the other hand, I can’t let that status as a new writer for the URPG get you completely off the hook. Despite this being a first story for a Simple Pokemon, it’s still an overused plot that people should try to avoid unless that generic level is required for a more in-depth plot. That being said, if you ever need help coming up with something for a story, you’re more than welcome to shoot a PM, email, or IM at me and ask for some assistance.

    ===

    Grammar/Spelling:
    Doo, let’s see what we have going on for what is probably one of my favorite sections of a Grade tee-hee-

    Of course, there have been times where thinking out loud got him into trouble, but the good outweighed the bad in his eyes.
    *You did a bit of a tense shift here. In keeping with the past-tense voice of your story, “have” should be changed to “had”.

    He took a sandwich out of the pouch and bit into it, and offered a variety of cooked meat, from beef to pork, to Droma, who happily clicked her mandibles together, and began eating as well.
    *This is an example of what we like to call a run-on sentence, one of the comma splice variety (if you’re of the school of thought that comma splices are an example of run-on sentences, anyways). Basically, there are two complete, independent thoughts here that are combined into a single sentence with the use of commas. The first one is Loki taking out a sandwich and eating it, the second is Droma getting food of her own. We can clean up this sentence and make it flow better (meaning it sounds better when read) by either splitting it into two separate sentences or employing a semi-colon:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    He took a sandwich out of the pouch and bit into it, then offered a variety of cooked meats to Droma. Happily, she chose one of them and clicked her mandibles together, beginning to eat as well.
    -OR-
    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    He took a sandwich out of the pouch and bit into it, then offered a variety of cooked meats, from beef or pork, to Droma; happily, she clicked her mandibles together and began eating as well.
    You could also remove some of the commas and do something like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    He took a sandwich out of the pouch and bit into it, then offered a variety of cooked meats to Droma, who clicked her mandibles together and started to eat as well.
    By taking away some of the commas and removing a few words, you can still combine full ideas into one sentence. It sounds a bit more awkward than just splitting them up into their separate components, but it can still work if done right.

    She then took advantage of the lull in chaos and used her Poison Fang move, weakening the Whismur so that it wouldn’t scream anymore- however, the attack did more than weaken the Pokémon-
    *Several times you used hyphens to end a sentence when you should have used other punctuation. Here, for example, you should have placed a period or semi-colon after “anymore” and perhaps an ellipsis (the thing that looks like this …) after “Pokemon”, both of which would have made the sentence flow better.

    Generally, reserve hyphens for when you need to interject a thought or dialogue in the middle of a sentence, or when cutting off a sentence for effect before beginning another (such as when one character interrupts another). There are other times when hyphens are used, such as in prefixes and such, but I won’t go over those here because those instances really have nothing to do with how you were using the hyphens here.

    Droma, realizing that she had no time to plan, sprung into action.
    *“Sprung” should be “sprang”.

    There were a few other things that need mentioning real quick. First, there were a few times when you didn’t exclamation marks, but used them anyways. They can be easy to abuse, especially if you feel there are things that need to be emphasized, but when you emphasize everything going in, then nothing seems very important because ALL of it is. They should only be used when emphasis is actually needed, such as when a character is screaming (it bothers me to no end to see a character supposedly screaming and then the dialogue ending in a period).

    Also, since you’d designated Droma as a female at the beginning to the story, it was a little jarring when you started calling her an “it” near the end. I suppose this may be more of a personal preference than anything, but once you assign a creature a gender, it’s best to keep referring to it as that gender unless otherwise is needed to make more of an impact on the reader. Otherwise, switching from “her” to “it” may confuse the reader as to what or who you’re talking about, and also knocks the reader out of the rhythm of reading (at least it does me, anyways lol).

    At any rate, there weren’t any glaring flaws or mistakes in this, which makes me a very happy panda indeed :3. I know comma splices and such can be confusing and all, so if you ever have questions about something, feel free to ask me and I’ll do what I can to clarify any issues you might be having.

    ===

    Description:
    Hmmmmm. For your first story, and one for a Simple Mon at that, I’d have to say that you really don’t need page after page of awe-inducing description. You do, however, need to include basic description of things, and not just how they look, either. We have five senses, after all, and really good description isn’t five paragraphs detailing every little crack and curve in that old statue. Really good description gets by on fewer, stronger words and by appealing to several senses. For the cave, you could have described it as such:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    It was dark inside, and dank as well. A faintly musty smell permeated the place along with the chill of somewhere that doesn’t receive much warmth from the sun’s rays. The muffled, distant sounds of cave-dwelling Pokemon could be heard in the background, but more prominent was the sound of Loki’s shoes moving across the cold stone beneath him.
    As you can see, we managed to touch on four (sight, tactile, scent, and hearing) senses in even fewer sentences. Trying to add in something for taste would have been awkward, so I didn’t bother as it would have made the description feel forced and unnatural. Another quick note; don’t over-describe things. You really don’t need five paragraphs telling someone how beautiful that random flower is, after all.

    At any rate, you gave us basic descriptions for most things, which is more than most people do. On top of that, you did a good job using a variety of interesting words and phrases instead of making the story bland and boring. Just don’t forget other sensory details in future stories, as they will help your story feel more realistic and, consequently, they can add characters to a story for Mon with higher character requirements. If you like, I can always offer advice on how to make powerful descriptions that don’t overdo it.

    ===

    Length:
    Bah, good enough for a Simple Mon.

    ===

    Battle:
    Stories have come a long way since when I first started Grading some time ago. Back then, battles were viewed as highly important and to post a story without one was considered heroic. These days, battles are seen as more of an add-on, you could say. Something that helps spruce up the story but isn’t really required in order to catch the target Mon.

    That being said, in my opinion if you decide to have a battle, you should commit to it. You started this with Droma using Scary Face in an inventive way, and it could have been the start to a nice little battle. However, Whismur uses no moves of its own and as it is, this battle is extremely one-sided. Yes, this is a Simple story, and no, battles aren’t really a requirement for a passing Grade, but even so, Whismur should have managed to get in at least one attack of its own.

    If you’re ever uncertain as to how long a battle should be, you can try using the method I do to gauge how many moves your target Pokemon should use. In this case, since Simple is the second rank in terms of difficulty, two move would have been a good number for Whismur to use (for another example, a story with Porygon-Z as the target would have the Pory using eight moves). It’s not anything you have to follow if you don’t want to, more of a suggestion in case you get stuck in the future.

    Also, battles involve more than just attacks. Try to make use of your surroundings and the Pokemons’ Abilities. Maybe they can have hold items like Life Orb in their possession. Things like that can make a battle more exciting without adding to the length like using several different attacks would. Battles, after all, are mainly used as a climax to a story (though they can take place in the middle or even the beginning of a story), and therefore don’t need to be long as much as they need to be interesting and attention-holding.

    ===

    Outcome:
    It’s your first story for a Simple Pokemon. You had good description even if the plot was so-so and the battle not as engaging as it could have been. The length was more than enough and your spelling and grammar were definitely above where they needed to be. All in all, the biggest problem I had with this was the plot, but again, it can be overlooked this one time. Thus, my verdict on this is Whismur captured!

    Just remember in the future to add a bit more description, avoid overused plots, and make battles a bit more interesting when you decide to include them. For future stories Graders will be more strict, especially when it comes to plots (which are the most important part of a story). Enjoy your Whismur and remember that you can always talk to me if you ever need any help with anything :D.

    Holy monkeys on a stick this is longer than I thought it would be...sorry about that ^^'.

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