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Criminal Intent: A Villainous Organization One-Shot Contest

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
OK, got some good sleep, so COHERENT REPLY TIEM, complete with gratuitous abuse of my imgur reaction image folder (though hyperlinked rather than embedded because forum rules).

Also spoilertagged because WALL OF TEXT

5th-6th place TIE: Overlord by solovino

Scoring
bobandbill: 4th place (60 points)
Creepychu: 6th place (40 points)
Dragonfree: 5th place (50 points)
Sike Saner: 8th place (20 points)
Total: 170 points
5th-6th place TIE: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Plasbad by Umbramatic

Scoring
bobandbill: 7th place (30 points)
Creepychu: 5th place (50 points)
Dragonfree: 6th place (40 points)
Sike Saner: 5th place (50 points)
Total: 170 points
Again: WE. FRIGGING. TIED.

Though seriously, I really am that excited about it; solvino's a very good friend of mine who I really respect as a writer, so to tie with him smack-dab in the middle of the rankings when the last time we entered a contest together (the Interpretation contest) I placed 10th out of 13 where he placed third is a huge honor and means more to me personally than either of us individually placing first or close, so that's why I'm so giddy about it in addition to the mind-boggling coincidence.

(Also, looking at the rankings and reviews for both our entries it really further drives the point home about how tough a time you guys had judging them all; I mean, the tie pretty much happened because you all had near-opposite rankings of our entries.)

Alright, now for the PAIN TRAIN.

...Though, I feel I got less pain than expected, which is quite nice, but anyhoo...

bobandbill

You were right - the title was silly. But I approve of anything using the phrase ‘plasbad’, so points from me there. =p

I found the story plot and the direction you took the plot to be neat. It was interestingly the only one which followed the entire plot of a game like so. It was nice to see you highlight some interesting points such as ‘Plasma used Poke Balls despite wanting to free Pokémon’ and the hypocrisy of some of its members (like the Munna kickers). It was also neat that you characterised a couple grunts in telling this story that I recalled from the games, and their reactions to different developments in the game felt reasonable. Good job with that!
Yes, the addition of "Plasbad" was fun and summed up the story well. :p And looking at the other entry titles, it definitely seems like one of the sillier titles overall - though IMO American--Pi has me beat in that department; congrats there, American--Pi. :)

Back on your end, bobandbill, glad how you liked how I presented the different aspects of Team Plasma and the whole of BW's story and how the protags reacted to both, especially since the whole fic's pretty much a perspective flip in that regard.

It may have been nice to see more conflict between the pair in the lead up to the otherwise nice, warming ending of the two friends appreciating each other like that, as they seemed fairly agreeable throughout with a few light ‘arguments’ that usually ended in a hug-out anyway. There was a lack of tension in their issues, I thought, which is maybe fitting for a comedy piece, but it didn’t at the same time work with that final resolution as it had never been a major point I felt needed a resolution during the story.
Hrm, yeah, some more real intrapersonal conflict between them would help their story work better; Creepychu and especially Dragonfree had a bit more to say on that so I'll save elaboration for them, but glad you found ending sweet regardless.

What we saw of their two Pokemon was neat as well, but their names at the end seemed like an odd detail to add in then and there, so when their names came up a second time I had nearly forgotten they were the Scrafty and Golurk. On the other hand, the bit about N remembering those two grunts as friends? That was pretty neat.
Thanks on Scraggy/Scrafty/Estragon and Golett/Golurk/Vladimir; their names are a bit of a nod to something tied to the premise, but I'll be elaborating on that with Dragonfree's note on the same subject.

And glad you thought the recognition/reunion bit worked - that was certainly fun to write. :p

The humour was mostly entertaining and did the job. A couple segments or moments may have missed their mark but overall I was amused by it. (I also caught the reference to a certain Nuzlocke comic before reading the latter part of author notes. =p On that note the likes of Simpsons references did not escape notice either.) Highlights for me were some of the details with N’s isolation, the pair just getting accepted in Plasma like that, and the random what-if scene with talking to someone and pulling out a chainsaw scene. (Hi, bemused other readers of this review! Why yes, this is a weird thing to write or read out of context!)
Someone got the Myths of Unova reference! :D I'm not usually much of a Nuzlocke comic person but Kynim's are fun, especially that one, and she was wonderfully gracious in letting me make that homage.

Though on a more feelsy note I assume you are also familiar with the agony of NOOOOOOO JORDAAAAAAAAAAAN WHYYYYYYYYYYYY

Glad Simpsons reference was appreciated as well, especially since that one ballooned into a larger-scale joke more its own. Also the chainsaw gag (and don't worry, Dragonfree gave it a bit more context in her review. A bit.)

Hard to notice but there is an extra space before ‘said’ there.
This did read a bit awkwardly, and maybe could be better worded with some more showing rather than telling that he had turned ‘energetically’.
Extra quotation mark.a
And here there was a missing quotation mark.
One thing I noticed was that tenses seemed to change every so often. Tom panicked, stood, saluted, trembled – past tense phrases, but then Scraggy hides and cowers - in the present tense. (This was better showing nonetheless.) Be more consistent in what tense you use in your writing, as it can get confusing.
This could use some rewording as well, e.g. ‘Why are those always the...”.
Arrgh, tense and punctuation, always tripping me up. >_<

Overall this was a neat story that could use a bit more thought with tense usage and maybe a touch more fleshing out to give the final scene more impact, but was certainly enjoyable already and had some nice moments expanded upon in the games.
Alright, thanks! Though assuming you meant "expanded upon from the games."

Creepychu

I'm of two minds on this one. On the one hand I appreciate the ambitious scope, since trying to bridge the events of the BW storyline within the bounds of a one-shot takes some doing and it's interesting to see someone tackle that challenge. On the other hand, I feel the length is not always committed to the interesting parts of the story.
Hrm... Yeah, looking at what else you said the story has a bit of a problem in terms of what it should and shouldn't focus on, but I'll get into more detail as you do. For now glad you appreciate my willingness to tackle a story like this head-on regardless.

To begin with, you've got a solid enough pair of leads in Roger and Tom, who both come off as your fairly standard grunt-material types. Their interplay works pretty well and I can buy why the two are friends from the way they stick together and look out for each other even when their personalities clash from time to time. They've got decent chemistry going and their squabbles come off as genuine enough. Equally, I can buy why they'd get involved in Plasma given Roger's personal baggage and how easily Tom gets excited and swept in with things. As protagonist go, they make a solid pair for making things happen and getting involved in the situation and have enough moments of occasional cleverness to buy into them catching onto the ruse the way they do.
Glad my two protagonists were a strong point and their personalities/motivations/relationship/etc. were pretty solid in driving the story. They were certainly fun to write. :p

That being said, I felt that the other key relationship in this story (that being the one between N and our main duo) came off as a bit more forced. His initial shock at having two grunts barge into his room is appropriate enough for a shut-in, as is his soft-spoken manner, but given the initial shock and his low opinion of people he gets strangely verbose with them very quickly after that, barely even getting past initial introductions before immediately launching into expositing about his character motivations. Plot-wise this is obviously important for getting Tom and Roger involved and invested in finding out more, but character-wise it feels far too abrupt for a character who should by rights have some pretty serious trust issues with unknown human beings. I can buy this relation forming over time, but I felt it would have been more believable (and interesting) if the development was more gradual and more focus was given to this aspect of the story, since it's such a core part of the plot and would also have provided some nice opportunities for staggering out Roger's and Tom's personal matters. The story with Hazel in particular felt like it came to a head very abruptly, since you have nice hinting at it early on with his feelings about pokémon treatment, but the actual moment of reveal kind of blindsided me. The other question that comes to mind is how negligent Ghetsis is of all this. These two burst into N's room, with brownies, and yet apparently he is completely unaware of it after the fact despite all the pains he's gone through to isolate N and control every influence he gets into contact with? Given the impression they made, I'd be very surprised if N had just kept quiet about the whole thing, especially given how out of character it is for how things normally operate in the castle. Likewise, it feels strange how strong their implicit trust of N is based off just a single quick meeting where they find out he's a bit strange. It just feels like there should be more of a story to tell there, and it'd have been interesting to see how both Ghetsis and the two protagonists would have handled the situation.
Hrm... Yeah, given all that, I can see why you think I rushed the development of Tom and Roger's relationship with N and that there was a lot of missed potential there as a result, and you raise a good point with how Ghetsis would have tried to handle it with the high likelihood they found out, and I realize writing this the Shadow Triad's also likely a factor.

Shadow Triad: -happen to be playing poker at the specific point of time Tom and Roger bust into N's room-

(...Not entirely sure I want that to be explanation in revision.)

But yeah, as I said before, drawing out the development of the protags' bonding with N and focusing more on it and the effects it has on the overarching plot will definitely be one of my biggest priorities revising this fic, since, as you said, it's a core part of the plot and could use some more love in terms of handling and exploring interesting possibilities. On the note of the latter some of the things you brought up are giving fun ideas for MOAR GHETSIS - he was fun to write the one point he appeared, but I grew disappointed I was only able to work him into that one bit, so your suggestions on giving him some more focus to address your concerns are very much appreciated.

By contrast, there are other places where I feel you are going over the same information to excessive amount. The most prominent is the run-in with Ghetsis in the hallway, where you first describe the scene as it happens and then launch straight into Tom explaining for a second time what we you just got finished explaining to us. In this case, I feel it would have been more efficient to cut straight to Roger's reaction to the story rather than going through the conversation leading up to it itself, especially since you already have a lot of ground to cover writing-wise.
Yeah, I can see where you feel redundant stuff like that is redundant; will definitely try to trim down.

On a writing-level, dialogue is where your story shines the most. All the core characters have distinct ways of expressing themselves that set them apart from each other and feel appropriate to the personalities in play and aside from the odd expositiony bits here and there the flow of conversations feels natural. The narration does its job competently and I appreciate the attention to body language, since it does a good job of conveying the emotions at play, enough so that some of the character explaining their feelings out loud feels redundant at times. This is particularly strong in the part after N is defeated, where I'd have appreciated more emphasis on the way they speak and behave rather than on each of them talking feelings since it's the kind of shocking moment where I'd expect that sort of self-reflection to be difficult.
Glad you felt the dialogue and body language were high points of this story, though definitely noted on the latter sometimes creating That Makes Me Feel Angry-ish redundancy with the former.

On the note of people explaining feelings, it also felt rather awkward for Reshiram to have to explain Tom's loyalty before Roger realized it, since the two have come off as close and loyal to the point where it seems very weird that Roger would find this surprising. Given how much is going on I can understand him needing an outside push to actually make him speak his mind on it, but a more subtle nudge should have been quite enough for that sort of thing and it does sort of cheapen the sentiment to know that he was genuinely surprised to find this out not a minute ago.
Reshiram: -frowns- <Hey, I'm the goddess of truth. Being blunt's in the job description.>

Creepychu's saying you were being Captain Obvious about something Roger logically should have known already, and the fact he acts like he didn't until you pointed it out kinda screws up the moment.

Reshiram: <...Quiet you.>

But yeah, as I just told Truthy McBurndragon I feel you on FURTHER REDUNDANCY there, and I'm actually already getting ideas for retools of that particular scene that both fixes that and helps improve the emotional impact with both characters involved.

On a technical level, I didn't find anything particularly off, though I did notice an odd switch to present tense for no apparent reason:



The paragraph could easily have been past tense and honestly should be.
My loathsome tense issues strike again, will fix. (Though likely cutting that bit anyway; see my response to the bit of Dragonfree's review regarding the scene that line takes place in.)

Lastly, the ending line felt like a pretty perfunctory note to end on, especially since you had a little ending joke on the previous line that would itself have worked better. It's equally a little bit strange to end on the words of two pokémon that have been silent side characters up to the story, but what they're saying is at least thematically fitting and would make for a better end point.
Hrm, yeah... I'm considering giving said Pokemon a somewhat expanded role - including translated dialogue beyond that final bit - so that might help.

All in all, there's a fair bit of rough edges here and I would have appreciated more attention towards building the relationship with N and less on recapping plot points from the games (which your expected readership should already be pretty familiar with) but I found myself rather liking the core story. Trim off a bit of the excess exposition, give a bit more focus to the central character relationship and you should be good.
Glad you found the overarching story enjoyable even with your niggles on the handling of certain fine details, and again, said fine details you mentioned as particularly needing fixing for the fic to more fully shine will be high priority in revising.

On a non-evaluation point, I'd also consider trimming down those authors' notes. There's no need to distract your readers by trying to pre-empt criticisms when you could simply stand behind your work with confidence and address the complaints as and if they come instead.
...Huh?

No, seriously, that was literally the only point in your review I didn't really get what you were talking about, since I never intended to deflect genuine criticism with those notes at all and am unsure and worried about why you think that way; that version of the Author's Notes was written specifically for you judges, and as I and solvino's PAIN TRAIN jokes may have implied I very much want you judges to give that criticism because it's the whole point of the contest (said jokes were made after you wrote that, but I still felt the same way). In the opening notes I was mostly just trying to give some context on what I was trying to do with the story (writing it a spinoff to previous stories that you all could still judge on its own merits without reading them, noting I was attempting to put more focus on comedy because I was personally dissatisfied with how some of other recent writing came off to me in that regard) plus a minor headcanon-y thing I was worried would throw people off unnecessarily; I genuinely never intended for it to read as trying to deflect criticism of how any of it was handed, and it genuinely really concerns me it read that way to you. That being said, since, again, that version of the Author's Notes was specifically for you judges and it'll be rewritten a fair bit for when the fic goes live, feel free to elaborate on why they came across that way so I can fix it ASAP.

Dragonfree


So this is basically Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, but for the fifth-generation Pokémon games instead of Hamlet. That's definitely a pretty amusing idea. I liked that you gave them the same names and somewhat analogous personalities as a homage to Tom Stoppard's play, and the Waiting for Godot reference near the end was a treat, too (although I've got to wonder why they'd give their Pokémon names all of a sudden then when they haven't had nicknames for most of the story).
Ah, so you're familiar with the story's basis, good, good. :p Glad you got the parallels with Tom and Roger's personalities and the nod to the OTHER play that inspired the original (though will also note general plot was also a rather loose intentional parallel in the vein of "two clueless nobodies eventually realize something really sinister is going down", and N and Ghetsis were similarly loose stand-ins for Hamlet and Claudius, respectively). Funnily enough it wasn't meant to be a homage at first; I was initially just writing it as a silly spinoff story to both Green and White/Truth and the actual G5 games, but as it took shape I noticed it had some uncanny resemblances to the play and decided it'd be fun to just roll with it.

As for name thing, it was due to what Roger mentioned near the beginning about assuming they'd be released after the whole liberation thing, but I should have made that more clear, so thanks to both you and bobandbill for pointing that out.

You do a good job of characterizing Tom and Roger as distinct; their voices are quite different, to the point that I have no problem following even long stretches of dialogue between them with no dialogue tags, and that's always a plus. Tom's hyperactive, childish eccentricness is sometimes over-the-top (his immediate declaration that he's going to walk over to the king of Team Plasma and give him a "big Ursaring hug" seemed particularly exaggerated), but he gets less so as the story goes on, and overall both Tom and Roger are quite lovable and endearing and you show their relationship nicely.
Glad you find my protagonists likeable and adorable. :p The gradual toning down of Tom's quirkiness over the course of the story was intentional yeah, but I could still probably afford to tone down the bits that went too far from early on like the one you mentioned.

This wasn't as much of a story about their friendship as I expected, though. At the end Reshiram gets Roger to tell Tom that he cares about him and he's the best friend he's ever had, and Vladimir comments that they've learned that the bonds of friendship can withstand great strife and work past great differences. But while this is adorable, it didn't actually feel at any point in the story like there was any significant strife or great differences between them, or a sense that Tom felt particularly unappreciated by Roger and needed to hear how much he cared. They argued about some trivial things, sure, and Roger called Tom an idiot sometimes, but they didn't have anything that seemed like a major interpersonal conflict - it just looked like regular friendly bickering to me. Overall, I think if you truly wanted an arc about their friendship evolving and growing stronger as they withstand great differences, you should have tried to convey that conflict and strife in a more focused way - show Tom being hurt when Roger lashes out at him, show them fighting over something that matters and not reconciling at the end of the scene. That would have made the "Total bros" scene far more potent - it's definitely sweet as it is, but it would be even more so if we truly felt like they hadn't been as certain of their friendship and their need for each other before.
So tl;dr "MAKE THEM BOTH ACTUALLY SUFFER SO THEY CAN BE EVEN MORE ADORABLE"?

that is so you i don't even-

...But seriously, since bobandbill noted the same thing and Creepychu alluded to it, putting more real intrapersonal conflict in with those two would help the emotional impact in a lot of areas, so that's another top priority in revising.

Instead, in its current form it's more of a mostly-comedic story about Black and White's storyline as told by some grunts hovering on the sidelines. You do a nice job of showing N and how passionate but sheltered, manipulated and ultimately screwed-up he is, even with lighthearted, comedic scenes, as well as portraying Team Plasma members who sincerely believe in N's cause slowly losing their faith as they realize how deep the corruption at the heart of the organization goes.
Hahaha, yeah, as I've noted to you before I find N super-fun to write and I'm glad he came off as true to how he is in the game this fic's story is molded around; similarly, I'm glad Tom and Roger's slow, painful realization they're in on something far nastier than what they signed up for came off well.

There were a number of things happening throughout that struck me as kind of strange, awkward or unnatural, though:
As a foreword, every bullet in this section had me realize "oh crap, why didn't I think of that when writing this damn thing?" so you did your job there.

- Why do Roger and Tom need to be told what Ghetsis and N look like? Would they really never have seen them or any photos of them or anything in the process of signing up for the team? As far as I can tell there's no story reason to have them not know from the start, either - it just adds unnecessary dialogue to describe them.
Yeah, them being told before the opening scene does make more sense when put that way, so I'll be tweaking to accommodate.

- Why does Tom's Scraggy immediately start hugging his leg? It's cute, but not generally a thing someone would do when confronted with a complete stranger they know nothing about. This especially jumps out at me because it'd actually be interesting to see some indication of exactly where Team Plasma's Pokémon come from. Were they "liberated" from other trainers? Then they'd probably be confused and upset to have been separated from them. Or were they caught in the wild by other Plasma grunts? Did their captors explain to them that they'd be assigned to other new recruits - and then wouldn't they be initially wary, wondering if the people they're assigned to can be trusted - or were they just caught and the next thing they know is standing in front of some completely different people - in which case they'd probably be confused and scared? Were they perhaps persuaded to join the cause, being passionate about Pokémon liberation themselves? We don't really get any idea of Scraggy and Golett as characters, even though there's a lot of potential there, especially for a story focused on Team Plasma - they have personalities, but there's no real sense that they have their own desires, motivations and lives, and I think that would be a great addition to this story, enhancing its themes both about Team Plasma and about friendship.
Tom's Scraggy/Scrafty/Estragon was meant to particularly mirror his Trainer in personality, but the notes you bring up do offer some delicious opportunities for expanding on him and Vladimir in ways that enhance the story as a whole, so will definitely be pondering those on revising.

- How did Roger and Tom not notice until after the fact that N had been talking about what Pokémon were saying during the battle with Hilbert? That would immediately jump out at anyone who think it's impossible to understand Pokémon speech, not be an afterthought that doesn't occur to them until several minutes afterwards. It makes sense Roger might not mention it until the battle is done, so that they can listen to the rest of what's going on, but then that should definitely be the first thing he comments on, not his disappointment that N used a Purrloin and lost.
...Did not quite realize that within the context, will tweak accordingly.

- The image of murderous cackling N with a chainsaw saying his name stands for "No survivors" definitely cracked me up, but it comes off as a very visual gag, which makes it feel a bit strange - I can just picture how this cut would happen in a TV show, but in prose it looks a lot weirder to have an absurd imaginary scene inserted in the middle of a conversation the same way. I'm not sure what to advise you here, because the scene is genuinely amusing - it might work better if you just had Tom describe it in a vivid, cinematic way, but I'm not actually sure how well it would come across. So, really, I don't know.
Hrm... I consume a fair bit of visual media and tend to imagine whatever I'm writing pretty vividly and visually in my head, so both can lead me to unwittingly setting something like that more visually than narratively. That said, I'm not quite sure what to do about it either, especially since you think the core gag is still solid, but I'll definitely think about it.

- Why are the grunts by the water cooler so eager to casually volunteer the fact that they abused a Munna? Surely, even though half of Team Plasma doesn't really believe in N's ideals about saving Pokémon, they'd know to at least try to keep up the pretense around other members they don't know. It would be a lot more believable, and actually possibly more sinister, if they were doing their best to minimize and talk around it - perhaps Roger would notice that they're being vague and probe them until he fishes it out of them, or something like that. Either way, currently they come off as rather cartoony, like they have no conception that anyone would have a problem with kicking Munna, even though they're in an organization that revolves around exploiting people's genuine sympathy for the cause of Pokémon rights.
I intended for them to be portrayed as believing pretty heavily in their "ends justify the means" mentality they mentioned, but... That clearly didn't come across well at all. Retooling.

- How do Roger and Tom have the time to beat up the thugs and shove them "somewhere inconspicuous" (where would that be, in the middle of an amusement park?) before this one car of the ferris wheel passes? If it's moving continuously, they only have a few seconds to get on. This encounter also makes Tom and Roger out to be implausibly skilled fighters by easily taking out two "thugs" with nothing more than random frying pans, just for the sake of a cartoony visual gag - honestly, I don't think it's worth it for the unbelievable setup here, given nothing about it has any wider repercussions for the story or is addressed in any way later. You might as well just have them go straight to spying on N and Hilbert.
Hrm... Yeah, you're right. Cutting.

- Skipping completely over how Tom and Roger did find N at the end, right after saying that he could be anywhere, stretches suspension of disbelief, even if you end up making a lampshadey joke about it. By the time the joke comes along, we've already spotted that it doesn't make sense, gone "Wait, what?" and concluded it's not going to be explained - at that point you can't back out by making it into a joke. Even if you did make it work out so that the first time we realize they shouldn't have been able to find N was right before the joke, though, I don't think this fic has set the right tone for that kind of joke. So far, the humour has been entirely grounded in normal reality - there have been no bizarre unexplained happenings waved away in this manner, and when it suddenly happens at the end of a ten-thousand-word fic, it just seems to come out of left field. I kind of like the joke in theory, but it needs to be in a very particular sort of story to work, and I don't think this story is it.
That, admittedly, was a homage in a similar vein to the ones bobandbill noted, but yeah, it's a gag better suited to the story it came from rather than this one, so I'll be retooling how they found N. Though pity that of all the homages I snuck into the story that's a one that doesn't really gel with the whole, since I'm rather fond of where it came from hint: it's David Spade's best movie.

Overall, I feel like this entry is a bit longer than it needed to be. That's not to say entire sections should be cut, just that I notice quite a few chunks of dialogue throughout that just don't add much - they don't further the plot in any way that couldn't just as well have been left out altogether, and they're not actually jokes or part of a setup. Mostly these are bits that give information, discuss the implications of something that just happened or tell us about something that's about to happen, where the information being given could easily be inferred by the reader or at least condensed to not take up several lines of back-and-forth dialogue. It's not a huge deal - it's not like these are long stretches of the story, just a few lines of dialogue here and there, and it doesn't seriously hurt my enjoyment of it - but it's something I noticed and that you might want to think about, especially when you're worried that you might go over a word limit, as you indicated you were with this entry.
Yeah, that ties pretty heavily into some stuff Creepychu said so definitely doing some fat-trimming there.

This story is very dialogue-focused, and I feel like it would have benefitted from a bit more narration. Everything is kind of abrupt, and while that works well for the comedic bits where it makes the dialogue more snappy and keeps up the rhythm, the more dramatic parts could convey emotion in a clearer, smoother way if they did more of describing the characters' actions, expressions and body language. You already have some body language in your dialogue, and it's generally well done body language that really adds to the reader's understanding of what they're saying and how they're feeling (good job on that!), but there's still comparatively little of it. Especially in scenes like where Roger is finally telling Tom about Hazel, I feel that it would come through better if you spent more time on what they're doing while this is going on - both of them, not just Roger. How does Tom react to hearing that story? Does he come over to try to comfort Roger? Does he look like a heartbroken puppy at the very thought of that kind of Pokémon abuse? When he says he joined Team Plasma to help stop this kind of thing, how does he say it and what does he do as he says it? It'd be more vivid to the reader if you wrote out a bit more of that kind of detail.
Hm, yeah, your comments on body language are a nicely complementary to Creepychu's (though pleased you both found what I had well-handled), so will definitely kinda mesh both of your comments when it comes to tweaking

(Also Tom looking like a heartbroken puppy in that scene is totally in-character and I am sorely tempted to use that in the revision.)

There are also some proofreading mistakes in here. In particular, a couple of times you confuse Tom and Roger's names, and you slip into present tense in several places; watch out for that.
I noticed I kept getting their names mixed up writing the thing (which strikes me as odd, considering how distinct they are personality-wise) and apparently I missed some, whoops. Also, damn you tense issues.

That's a lot of criticism, but I genuinely really enjoyed this story. It's sweet, adorable, definitely has its pretty amusing moments, and overall just makes me smile. Not everything in it makes sense, though, and I think you could have built a more consistent, solid narrative arc about Tom and Roger's friendship that would have made it even more adorable.
Very glad you liked it so much, and I'll be sure to try and fix the things you noted.

Sike Saner

This was definitely one of the most readable fics of the bunch. The style was nice and clear; at no point did I stop and go, "Buh?" Overall, this was a pretty fun read.
Glad my writing style came off as really smooth to you, and that it was a fun read overall.

The only things that really snagged me at all were the little grammatical/stylistic oopses and whatnot, and even they were pretty minor:



I do get what you were going for with the space-hyphen-space combo. But I think it'd be a little clearer and tidier to use double hyphens--like so. Plus some word programs will go ahead and format double hyphens into a proper em dash for you, which looks even better.


Here's another place that'd benefit from em dashes/double hyphens. I think it'd also benefit from having them inside the quotes rather than outside.


The bolded bit can probably go. The "in a fashion so dry" already does the job for it.


This might flow a bit better with that "later" at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a comma. Also, that comma after "their" can go.

There were also a few missing quote marks, a couple of tense errors, a few extraneous letters, and a couple of space errors. Again, though, minor stuff.
Noted on all counts, though ARGH MORE TENSE AND PUNCTUATION ERRORS WHY

As far as comedies go... well, I can't say I laughed my *** off at every gag. But I laughed all the same, especially at "but calm the fuck down"--probably because that bit mirrored my thoughts exactly at that point, heh. And perhaps more significantly, I didn't laugh at the stuff that wasn't meant to be funny, i.e. the Deino backstory.
Considering my goals with this fic, I am super-pleased to hear that while not all the comedy hit its mark (and really, it takes a very skilled writer to pull that off, and I decidedly am not at that level), most of it did, and the dramatic bits all being spot-on definitely helped make up for the comedic bits that didn't further, so thanks a ton.

Overall, from going through all that I've actually already gotten a decently clear idea of what I need to do to better emphasise what works in this story and try and fix what doesn't, which is very nice. So, one hell of a thank-you to all of you judges, and I'm very happy that despite the criticisms you all genuinely enjoyed my crazy attempt to turn a famous piece of absurdist theatre into a Team Plasma fic. In light of that and the FRIGGING TIE... well, I'll let one of the fic's more prominent characters illustrate how I feel here. Or, if I'm more directly aiming at how I feel toward you judges and solvino, here. :p

(Though, argh, this took literally all day to write, especially with some holdups. Sorry guys. @_@)
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
Are we allowed to post our stories in their own threads now?
 

Dragonfree

Just me
Yup, you can post your entries wherever you like now! In fact, since your entry was just a smidgen too long to be posted with the reviews, we'd highly encourage you to post it in full soon so everyone can enjoy it.

Umbramatic said:
So tl;dr "MAKE THEM BOTH ACTUALLY SUFFER SO THEY CAN BE EVEN MORE ADORABLE"?

that is so you i don't even-
Pretty much. :p

Umbramatic said:
I noticed I kept getting their names mixed up writing the thing (which strikes me as odd, considering how distinct they are personality-wise) and apparently I missed some, whoops.
I think this is just a thing that happens if you write a lot of the same two characters. When I wrote The Fall of a Leader, which revolves around two characters and their exactly opposite worldviews, I kept on writing the wrong name in the dialogue tags, too (granted, in that case their names are a bit similar and both start with the same letter, but nonetheless). At least, since Tom and Roger are so different, it was pretty easy to tell when the name was wrong.

I'm glad our reviews have been helpful to you in identifying changes you want to make! Good luck.
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Pretty much. :p
-Further reaction image folder abuse-

Yup, you can post your entries wherever you like now! In fact, since your entry was just a smidgen too long to be posted with the reviews, we'd highly encourage you to post it in full soon so everyone can enjoy it.
On that note... I've historically saved giving contest entries their own threads for when I revise them (or overhaul them into a brand-new spiritual successor story; hi there, Caging Destruction!) and I'll still do that here, but for the sake of being a good sport since my entry was way too frigging long to post with the results you all feel free to have a gander at the Google Doc of the contest draft and send me more PAIN TRAIN feedback via VM or PM.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
Haha I'll have to do some grammar check first. But I'm keeping "ok" because unlike the other examples, it's not a proper noun (and if we go by that, it would be oK since the o just stands for old).

:p

Bah, I can't believe I made so many silly mistakes though. I'm glad people love the Charon chapter! That's my favorite too. And Saturn honestly...I didn't know what to do with him. I had no idea what to do other than having him obsess over hating Hareta, and that wouldn't have made for a good chapter (and yes I know that Jupiter's chapter is basically hating on Mitsumi but there at least she shows her grudging respect). The names of the chapters had me in a corner on some, since they DO have canon basis but that also left four of them without them. I went with the fan idea that Mitsumi would be Mercury, not only because of her name but because of her closeness with Cyrus. And B-2 is based on a joke that he'd be "Uranus"...you know why. Let's not beat around the bush, you know why.

Though I'm most proud that it inspired you guys to read DPA. It's an incredible series and very underrated, even if it ends what seems like a full book early, but I blame CoroCoro for wanting to get HGSS stuff in.
 

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
In between activity and social life and the like, I expect to be posting "Overlord" in its own thread by Saturday. It will be basically the same version sent to the judges, plus some mechanical fixes (spelling, and a particularly annoying double full stop that I somehow missed).

Will also include judge comments and response to them, just like for the previous contest.
 

ASCIInerd73

User of the Internet
Yay, forty points!

In all seriousness, though, I was expecting something like that to happen because, between this being my first fanfic I ever wrote and real life events causing me to get too busy to finish the plot I had in mind or even proofread what I did get written down. I was hoping to not get last place, but I suppose that, given how it ended up turning out, it wasn't that reasonable. This isn't how I had hoped to enter, but it is nice to see that the judges' reviews weren't just fixated on how rushed my story was ("but his face" is not a good way to end a paragraph, especially an important one such as the first one, as I would have seen if I had time to proofread, and me avoiding all of the good plot ideas was another measure to try to get it in on time) and they actually mentioned things I wouldn't have otherwise known (Who knew that the plural form of Pokemon species was established? Not me!) or even thought about (like my tendency to summarize which I hadn't thought of before but is now obvious).
 

Negrek

Lost but Seeking
Awesome! This wasn't really the story I wanted to enter for this contest, so I'm surprised and pleased that it ended up going over so well!

Congratulations to everyone who entered, and especially to [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] and Dramatic Melody for placing! And many thanks to the judges for running a tight contest and getting such great feedback together in a short time. I don't think this is the fastest turnaround we've had on contest results, but it's gotta be close. This looks like it was a really fun contest to judge, too--I certainly had a great time reading all the entries (or what's been posted of them so far) and the judges' comments. Special shout-out to [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]; "Baton" is excellent, and definitely my personal favorite for this contest.

Also also, I'm intrigued by a lot of the entries in this contest and do dearly want to see them when they go live, so no offense to anyone else in that regard, but Negrek: I was so pleasantly surprised you took home 1st place with a Cipher fic when I was expecting Rocket to hog the top spots, and the concept of your fic is absolutely FASCINATING (Shadowfication's usually depicted as severe mental tourture, so exploring the mentality of a mon who'd WANT to go through that for totally sympathetic reasons is really unique and interesting) and while I haven't read full entry yet due to brain being too focused on FRIGGING TIE right now, I'll read it tomorrow after I respond to judges on mine and give feedback privately, and will gladly review yours (and some of the others) once they're posted in the main fic forum...
Hey, thanks! I hope you like it when you read the full thing. (I don't know whether "enjoy" would be quite the word to use for that entry...) tbh TR is my favorite team, but since they feature heavily in Salvage and it would probably be too self-indulgent to turn in a spin-off of my main 'fic for this contest, I figured I'd go with something different. Thanks again for the shout-out, and I look forward to reading your story in full when you decide to post it! It looks like the excerpt represents only a tiny fraction of the actual 'fic.

Annnd feedback-reply:

[spoil]
I thought there was a lot going on in my entry and wasn't sure whether I'd managed to make it clear, so I'm really glad it looks like everybody picked up what I was going for. I also didn't think the emotional core was very solid, so it's great to hear it made some of you sad. >:D

I actually took the idea for this story from a long chapterfic I wrote part of about a decade ago--which actually had a happy ending! However, I threw this story together rather last-minute, hence the shortness, and in turn the sad ending; there wasn't time/space to develop a positive character arc! So, I feel what Creepychu said about it turning out bleak, and am a bit disappointed by it myself, but it was straight-up easiest to go for the downer version. I'm also not sure how much I can do as far as showing a case of Houndour's conviction that shadow is the way to be; like you said, the story's framed as his reflections and thus will be influenced by his current state of mind. I'm sure at some point he was much more optimistic and wouldn't have agreed with his present self's view of the world, but of course any memories that come to mind that show that point of view are going to be accompanied by present-him's conviction that SUCH A FOOL I WAS, SUCH A FOOL. However, perhaps including a scene from his past that is more happy-go-lucky, as Dragonfree suggested, would provide some of the desired contrast the current getting-bullied version doesn't provide.

wrt that, the flashback to when Houndour was wild was actually the latest and most hasty addition to the story since I decided to change his species at the last minute and the scene I'd previously had in that spot wouldn't work for a houndour. I'll see if I can't think up something more interesting for that section now that I have the opportunity to reflect on it a bit. I also agree that having a more positive scene in there would serve to heighten the tragedy a bit; in the current version Houndour is basically angsting the entire damn time, so it's a bit hard to appreciate the carefree, cheerful nature he lost because he's never that way within the actual text. And you're right, Houndour's trainer should definitely have some reassuring lie to regurgitate that explains why Murkrow's acting so weird all of a sudden.

I’m fairly confident that in the game’s canon Michael’s father is not anybody currently working on the purification chamber, and is supposedly missing or maybe dead.
omfg, I tried really hard to make this line up with the game, and I CANNOT believe I completely forgot that. He lives with Professor Krane! Clearly that means Krane's his dad! Argh.

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback! I'll definitely make some changes before I post up a final version of this.
[/spoil]

Also, as far as themes for the next contest go--I think I mentioned earlier in this thread that something to do with Pokemon GO could be fun, or a general theme of interactions between the real world/pokemon: whether a one-shot about a person who just enjoys the Pokemon franchise, where it's understood that pokemon are fictional, or a case of a real-world person getting bamfed into the Pokemon world or vice versa. Kind of an off-the-wall topic, but idk, I think it could be fun.

Anyway, I'll get my story polished up for an actual post in the next couple weeks. One benefit of it being so short is that it won't take all that long to edit. :p
 

bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
Bunch of review replies! Might spoiler.

[spoil]
Yay, I didn't get last! =P

Not gonna lie though, I'm a little disappointed. Okay, more like rather. As a perfectionist this is pretty disappointing. I placed lower than my previous contest entry, even though I personally was quite proud of my story as I wrote it. My beta reader, my eleven-year-old sister, found it to be awesome and hilarious... but then again, she is eleven.
Understandable to be somewhat disappointed, but I guess that's only natural to be. Don't take it too bad - as Dragonfree said, it doesn't mean the story itself was bad either, and I doubt I'd do well in regards to placing writing outside of my comfort zone in a contest, as would many others. But it's a heck of a good way to practice.

Key point also is what one person finds funny isn't going to necessarily amuse someone else. Some things have a larger audience than others, but to make everyone laugh is very hard to do.
I guess the best consolation I have is, 1.) I didn't place last, and 2.) I learned a LOT about writing comedy. Comedy apparently isn't one of my strong suits, but I don't intend on giving it up anytime soon. I just hope to keep trying, writing, learning, and growing when it comes to writing comedy.
Comedy is certainly not an easy genre as well, so good to hear you learnt a bunch from our feedback, and that you'll keep at it. =) If you have any other questions about it do ask as well!
Ahem.

solvino?

WE TIED

WE FRIGGING TIED
Ties aren't that uncommon in contests. =p
...In light of that have our live IM reactions, folks
Hah, nice that you shared that! Years ago when I entered a contest myself (goodness this was 2007/2008, christ that's ages ago) a bunch of use had an IM chat when the contest results were announced, only we commented on them live. Good memories there. =)
In the end, writing itself went how I wanted to but I still had to end up dropping a whole scene out of the originally intended four, something that bobandbill and creepychu in the least seem to have easily caught on in their reviews. And since you were interested and asked: for the missing scene, right after the "Red Dot", focus would have shifted to the times where Persian is forced away from Giovanni. It was intended to be a Gym Battle with Persian on the sidelines, complaining to some Pokémon in Giovanni's team how he was not allowed to participate in these events despite being obviously the best in the bunch (and well, of course Persian wouldn't care about Gym type rules :p). The whole "promise to keep heir safe" thing was supposed to source from that scene, alas, it had to me shuffled around and it ended up tell-don't-show'ed, which I think impacts much on how unnatural or unaccomplishing the shift from the second scene to the third might have felt.
I see, interesting. I look forward to the rewrite version, and any other responses you mentioned you'll post there!
Thanks. I was actually worried that I might've introduced that point of conflict rather late or that it might have an effect of making the first parts dragging, but I'm glad that you thought the timing was okay.
Nah, it read fine to me. =)
Ah, duly noted. Funny because after running the piece through with [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] (who was a great beta!), one of my major revisions for the first draft of the piece was to expand on this aspect of Vega because it wasn't too pronounced. So I guess I overdid it a little this time around. I'll be sure to strike a balance when I revise it!
Haha, it can be a delicate balance at times!
Huge thank you for the comments on prose and grammar, although there's that one quote about the contract in your review that doesn't seem to have a comment…?
Oh, so there is. It... may have been meant to be moved to where I talked about the point of conflict earlier and had forgotten to do so.
And one last thing:

I'm pretty sure Sycamore saw more than "charm" and "persuasiveness" in Lysandre. ;)
:V
Back on your end, bobandbill, glad how you liked how I presented the different aspects of Team Plasma and the whole of BW's story and how the protags reacted to both, especially since the whole fic's pretty much a perspective flip in that regard.
It's generally something that does appeal to me. But then I did write a whole fic once based on following a game's events with a different look. :V
Thanks on Scraggy/Scrafty/Estragon and Golett/Golurk/Vladimir; their names are a bit of a nod to something tied to the premise, but I'll be elaborating on that with Dragonfree's note on the same subject.
I certainly noted that nod, but perhaps throwing that aspect in earlier (rather than the end part of what had been the longest entry we received) would be better to get the reader used to the fact they were named that for beyond one more usage of the name as opposed to a lot more Scraggy/Golett/etc references.
Someone got the Myths of Unova reference! :D I'm not usually much of a Nuzlocke comic person but Kynim's are fun, especially that one, and she was wonderfully gracious in letting me make that homage.

Though on a more feelsy note I assume you are also familiar with the agony of NOOOOOOO JORDAAAAAAAAAAAN WHYYYYYYYYYYYY
That's nuzlocke comics I suppose, they're no "fun" if nobody dies. =p Agreed that hers are better than most, and I can't say I read a lot myself. Neat she agreed on the homage! Bet she was pleased by it in fact. =)
Alright, thanks! Though assuming you meant "expanded upon from the games."
Yes. :V
Yay, forty points!

In all seriousness, though, I was expecting something like that to happen because, between this being my first fanfic I ever wrote and real life events causing me to get too busy to finish the plot I had in mind or even proofread what I did get written down. I was hoping to not get last place, but I suppose that, given how it ended up turning out, it wasn't that reasonable. This isn't how I had hoped to enter, but it is nice to see that the judges' reviews weren't just fixated on how rushed my story was ("but his face" is not a good way to end a paragraph, especially an important one such as the first one, as I would have seen if I had time to proofread, and me avoiding all of the good plot ideas was another measure to try to get it in on time) and they actually mentioned things I wouldn't have otherwise known (Who knew that the plural form of Pokemon species was established? Not me!) or even thought about (like my tendency to summarize which I hadn't thought of before but is now obvious).
Glad to hear our comments were of use then even if you had been caught up with rl to be able to finish the plot. (And on that note, yes, plural form for Pokemon has been established canonically! E.g. 'group of Psyduck' in DPPt, or more recently horde of Pikachu, etc in 6th gen games rather than 'horde of Pikachus').
Congratulations to everyone who entered, and especially to [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] and Dramatic Melody for placing! And many thanks to the judges for running a tight contest and getting such great feedback together in a short time. I don't think this is the fastest turnaround we've had on contest results, but it's gotta be close. This looks like it was a really fun contest to judge, too--I certainly had a great time reading all the entries (or what's been posted of them so far) and the judges' comments. Special shout-out to [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]; "Baton" is excellent, and definitely my personal favorite for this contest.
It was indeed fun. =)
omfg, I tried really hard to make this line up with the game, and I CANNOT believe I completely forgot that. He lives with Professor Krane! Clearly that means Krane's his dad! Argh.
Haha, it's okay. All the rest seemed spot-on to me (even the bit of using Umbreon to be a tough-to-beat Pokemon while Wes chucks Snag balls, that has some accuracy to how many played Colosseum thanks to how defensive Umbreon is, haha). But I couldn't let that one go. ;p[/spoil]
 

Venia Silente

[](int x){return x;}
"Overlord", my entry for this contest, has been officially released into its own thread, with the mirror of the judges' reviews and my responses to them, as well as further commentary on the story and responses to inquiries or criticism by the general audience, to be posted as they happen.

Here's hoping to read more of the other entries in full!
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
In light of American Pi's post above, I felt I should note I intend for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Plasbad to be revised and live in its own thread by the first half of 2016; biggest factor there is if i want it up before or after the start of Heroes After All, considering latter is my first chapterfic in what'll be five years as of early 2016 but has been besieged by delays (it was supposed to happen late this year).
 

AmericanPi

Write on
Now that this contest is over, is the sticky on this thread going to be removed?

Also, I'd like to hopefully discuss future contests. I really hope for there to be one contest every year - I dunno, I think it would be fun that way. If that's the case, what would be the theme of 2016's fanfiction contest? If I remember correctly, some of you were discussing for the theme to be "Pokemon and Real Life", or something like that. I'm pretty okay with that particular theme - in fact, I have a fic in mind that I planned to write three years ago but never got around to writing it oops.
 

JX Valentine

Ever-Discordant
Now that this contest is over, is the sticky on this thread going to be removed?
Well, not removed but unstickied, yep. Contest threads tend to hang out for a couple of months because they're a handy index to fics and whatnot. b)'')b

Also, I'd like to hopefully discuss future contests. I really hope for there to be one contest every year - I dunno, I think it would be fun that way.
Rest assured that contests are an annual thing! :D You can see it be an annual thing here (which is also gonna be a handy post for discussing future themes if y'all are gonna do that, just so we don't do something we've already done). Only time we haven't held a contest seems to be 2011, and that's just because 2011 was weird for everyone. (Not really. I have no idea what happened that year.)

I will have to say, though, afaik, themes don't really get discussed until later on in the year, but having never organized a contest (and having never really had the will to do so anyway), I can't really say for certain what the process is. It tends to be done behind closed doors, more or less; that's why 2012's was actually kinda weird. But I'm not officially discouraging talk about it. Stuff like this gives mods ideas. ;D

In the meantime, I will also say I won't object to a Pokémon/real world theme. It's very rarely done in a way that doesn't end with "and then the character got sucked into the Pokémon world" or "and then it turned out the game was ~HAUNTED~," so it'd be fun to see what people do with it.
 

Dragonfree

Just me
2011 actually didn't have a contest because 2010's contest was still going on. Like, the results of the Perspective contest were posted in December 2011. (It was an awkward time.) There would have been a week left of the year to pull off a 2011 contest. Needless to say, nobody tried to make that happen.

Technically the contests weren't officially an annual thing at the start - we had four contests in 2006 and two in 2007 - but in recent years it's more or less become one, and we're generally planning to keep to that. We've gotten into a nice rhythm with the contest and awards (and Yuletide) sort of alternating, so that for most of the year there's something going on, which is cool.

Generally the theme has been decided by the mods/organizers of the contest rather than by any kind of public process, yeah. I'm inclined to think that's ultimately the best way to go about it, because if it becomes a matter of public consensus, then potential entrants have a vested interest in championing whatever theme they personally would be good at or have an idea for; whoever has the most time on their hands to argue for their preferred theme starts to have undue power over the final decision; and people who are following the discussion can start to brainstorm or even write their entries before the contest formally starts. I'm definitely open to suggestions for potential themes, and have received a couple by PM already; I just think it's probably best if the final decision is generally made where would-be entrants can't influence it or see it until the contest is formally announced. I may be overthinking this, but.
 

Blackjack Gabbiani

Clearly we're great!
A variant on "Pokémon in the real world" would be an everyday life with them. Like, what do the people who AREN'T trainers and villains and all of them do?
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
A variant on "Pokémon in the real world" would be an everyday life with them. Like, what do the people who AREN'T trainers and villains and all of them do?
What the people of the Pokemon world do aside from Trainer-y things and the like would be an interesting spin on that one, actually; Spiteful Murkrow actually tackled that in two of his pre-Fledglings fics, namely Dragonspiral's Children and Context Switch.

Speaking of something related to both that and this contest, the aforementioned Dark/Flying type got me this as a gift:



Definitely gonna be "official art" when the revised version of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Plasbad goes live, thank you so much! For now if anyone wants a higher-res version just ask me.
 

bobandbill

Winning Smile
Staff member
Super Mod
Speaking of something related to both that and this contest, the aforementioned Dark/Flying type got me this as a gift:
Hah, I saw this elsewhere and thought it was for your fic! It's pretty swell. =)

Reminds me of years back when banners were made for fic contest winners. Something to consider next time (if there are artists willing, that is).
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Hah, I saw this elsewhere and thought it was for your fic! It's pretty swell. =)
Oh, really? I assume a random place on Tumblr or something? :p But thanks!

Reminds me of years back when banners were made for fic contest winners. Something to consider next time (if there are artists willing, that is).
Because 20th anniversary, might be fun to do throwback in that respect this year, yeah; willing artist still a factor, of course.
 
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