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Released (one-shot for FFQ Edition 2 challenge; PG)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by AmericanPi, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    A one-shot for the Fan Fiction Quarterly Edition 2 (June 2015) Challenge
    by American--Pi​

    Well, here it is, my response to the prompt in Edition 2 of the Fan Fiction Quarterly. The challenge was to write a fic with no dialogue. Needless to say, it took a lot of thinking to complete the prompt, but after reading the fics of other people who have completed it the prompt got considerably easier. I still struggled a bit with writing this, but it was a nice challenge. I even managed to do the extra credit. I think this fic fits the prompt pretty well, so enjoy. :)

    Quacklin' woke slowly in his bed, his Poke Ball still dark from when he turned off the lights last night. He located the light switch on the curved wall next to his bed and pressed it with his bill. Instantly Quacklin's Poke Ball became awash with white light, and the Farfetch'd blinked his eyes a few times to adjust to the change in brightness.

    He looked around the inside of the Poke Ball he called home. The roof was domed and red, with a hanging light in the middle. On the far side of the Poke Ball was the small kitchen where Quacklin' ate the Pokemon food that the refrigerator always seemed to be full of, no matter how much he ate. Close to Quacklin's bed was a bathroom just big enough for him to take a shower and use the toilet. A medium-sized window hung on the Poke Ball's wall, and a living area with a couch and a computer-television hybrid called a PokeScreen sat in the center of the Poke Ball.

    Quacklin' yawned and got out of bed, his leek tucked securely under his wing. Blinking away sleep, he waddled over to the window and looked outside.

    It was an interesting window - on the outside, it looked as if the window wasn't there at all, just the solid red wall of the Poke Ball. But looking from the inside out, Quacklin' could see his neighbor's Great Ball, as well as his PC Box's grassy wallpaper. Nothing had changed since he went to sleep, then, which comforted and irritated Quacklin' at the same time. He wished things could change, just a little, to stir things up. Quacklin's Poke Ball was still in Box 1 of his trainer's PC, and next to his Poke Ball was still the Great Ball that his neighbor, a Litleo, lived in.

    Quacklin' felt a familiar pang of jealousy when he saw the blue-and-white surface of the Great Ball next to him. From talking to various Pokemon and watching various television programs, he knew that a Great Ball made a grander and more comfortable home than a Poke Ball.

    As Quacklin' waddled over to the kitchen to eat his breakfast, he tried to push his jealousy out of his mind. He had had a few video calls with his next-door neighbor and learned that the Litleo had only gone into battle once since being caught. Although it had been a long time since his last battle, Quacklin' had had many battling opportunities during his long time as a Trainer Pokemon. He half-heartedly wondered if his neighbor was jealous of him in this regard.

    After a filling breakfast of Pokemon food, Quacklin' settled down on the couch and turned on the Poke Screen. His first order of business was to check the news. There was little news of interest today - there was another report concerning an organization called Team Flare causing a little trouble, but that was nothing the police couldn't handle. There was also some news about the possible resurgence of Team Plasma, but that was all the way in Unova so it didn't bother Quacklin' too much.

    Quacklin' closed the news website and opened PokeBook, a social networking website that allowed him to connect with any Trainer Pokemon in the Pokemon World. Since every Trainer Pokemon had a PokeScreen of some sort in their Poke Ball, Quacklin' could conceivably contact any Trainer Pokemon. Well, aside from those Pokemon that were celebrities among the rest of the Pokemon in the Pokemon World, such as the Legendary Pokemon that elite Trainers across the Pokemon World managed to catch. Most of these celebrity Pokemon had PokeBook profiles so that they could connect with their fans, but directly messaging those celebrities was pretty much impossible.

    Presently Quacklin' checked his notifications and found out that, since he last went on PokeBook, some of his friends had posted some pictures of recent happenings. He went through the pictures, liking and commenting on them. He felt jealous that his friends got to leave their Poke Balls and do things, but he suppressed his feelings. Quacklin's friends were nice to him and fun to chat with, so Quacklin' was genuinely happy that they were happy.

    Still, Quacklin' missed leaving his Poke Ball and battling. While his Poke Ball and PokeScreen provided him with plenty of comfort and entertainment, Quacklin' wished he could go out into the human world more. Like every Pokemon, Quacklin' felt the drive to have a good battle running through his veins every day.

    As Quacklin' watched a funny video one of his friends shared, he thought of the last time he battled. His trainer, a teenage boy named Calem, had called Quacklin' out to battle Viola, the Bug-type specialist Gym Leader of Santalune City. It had been a relatively easy battle with the type advantage and all, but a fun one nevertheless. The opposing Vivillon had given him a bit of trouble with a well-executed Infestation attack, but with a few powerful Aerial Aces Quacklin' had knocked out his Bug-type opponents and felt the joy of victory.

    Quacklin' really wished that he could have an experience like that again, but after the battle against Viola - which happened a month ago - Calem had deposited Quacklin's Poke Ball into a PC Box and never retrieved Quacklin' since.

    Quacklin' sighed as the video ended. He suddenly remembered Cliff, his original trainer. Cliff, an avid hiker, took relatively good care of Quacklin', letting the Farfetch'd out of his Poke Ball once in a while, but Cliff was never much of a battler. Besides, the hiker always wanted a Bunnelby, and was willing to trade away Quacklin' for one.

    When the trade happened between Cliff and Calem, Quacklin' had been relatively sad that Cliff would no longer be his trainer, but hopeful that Calem would be a better owner who gave him more battle opportunities. When Calem called upon Quacklin' for his battle against Viola, Quacklin' thought that his wish had come true. Unfortunately, after that battle Quacklin' had never even once been let out of his Poke Ball.

    Eventually, though, Quacklin' got used to it, because it was quite comfortable in his Poke Ball. Presently Quacklin' closed PokeBook and opened PokeFlicks, eager to start watching the latest episode of Pro-Team Omega, his favorite TV show.

    Quacklin' was immersed in his episode when suddenly the PokeScreen froze and everything began to glow with a light blue light - his furniture, his Poke Ball walls, even himself. Before Quacklin' had time to wonder what was happening, he felt a squeezing sensation, as if he and his Poke Ball were getting smaller. Panic rising in his throat, Quacklin' instinctively clung onto his leek and ran over to the window, not sure what he was going to see. He realized with a jolt that his glowing Poke Ball was indeed shrinking - the neighboring Great Ball was appearing larger and larger. Having no idea what was happening, Quacklin' felt terrified as the window suddenly blacked out and his surroundings glowed bluer still. He felt as if his Poke Ball was moving forward at a blistering pace.

    Suddenly, Quacklin's Poke Ball hit the ground - or at least it felt like it - and bounced a few times. Quacklin' felt a stretching sensation, as if he and he Poke Ball were growing rapidly in size. The blue glow did not fade; rather, it intensified, filling Quacklin's body with electric coldness. Then the light became so bright that Quacklin' could see nothing but bright blue.

    By this time Quacklin' was so scared that he wanted this mysterious blue light to just go away. Quacklin's insides churned as something lifted him up and sent him rocketing. He shut his eyes tightly, beggin Arceus that his ordeal would be over soon.

    And just like that, it was. Quacklin's world stopped moving, and the Farfetch'd could feel the blue light fading and the warmth returning to his body. He was faintly aware of a gentle breeze ruffling his feathers and the rays of the early morning sun warming his body.

    Quacklin' took a deep breath and gripped his leek tightly, trying to stop himself from shaking. He hypothesized that, wherever he was, he was out of his Poke Ball - otherwise he wouldn't feel the wind and the sun. Slowly, Quacklin' opened his eyes.

    He was standing on a brick path, and in front of him was a familiar house - Cliff's house! Quacklin' felt a surge of joy. At least he wasn't lost. He looked around and his spirits dampened when he realized that he couldn't see Calem - or anyone else, for that matter - anywhere. He couldn't see his Poke Ball, either. That's when it hit him: he had been released.

    Quacklin' waddled over to the side of Cliff's house, sat down, and sighed. That explained a lot of things. If Calem wanted to let Quacklin' out of his Poke Ball, Quacklin's body would have glowed with a warm white light, not a cold blue light. He knew this because of the one time Calem sent him out to battle. Besides, if Calem wanted to let Quacklin' out, he would first have to withdraw Quacklin's Poke Ball from the PC Box, which did not happen. Finally, Quacklin' was near the place where Cliff and Calem had traded Pokemon. This, along with the strange circumstances that brought him here, convinced Quacklin' that Calem had released him to the wild.

    Quacklin' gripped his leek in his bill and took to the sky, feeling scared but thrilled. He had never had the experience of being a wild Pokemon before - Cliff had had him since he was an egg - and Quacklin' was looking forward to this new experience. He knew he would miss his PokeScreen and the comfort of a Poke Ball, but he knew being a wild Pokemon would offer him plenty of adventure and battle opportunites.

    Quacklin's heart quickened as he flew higher to survey his surroundings. It had been a long time since he had flown so high, and for a moment Quacklin' felt overwhelmed by the altitude and the breezes that ruffled his feathers. Farfetch'd aren't the best of flyers, but after a few moments Quacklin' was able to adjust to the wind.

    Santalune City was below him - he knew that was the city where Cliff lived. To the east of the city was a lush forest, and to the north was a lovely garden. After circling the city a few more times, Quacklin' decided to explore the forest to the east.

    He descended into the leafy canopy of the woods and landed on a large limb of a moderate-sized oak tree. The forest was quiet and pretty, but Quacklin' knew that he should keep on the lookout. He hoped he hadn't accidentally trespassed onto some aggressive Pokemon's territory.

    Quacklin' stayed on his oak for some time, observing the forest. Occasionally he saw a Pokemon or two in the tall grass or heard the forest Pokemon calling out to each other, but there was no sign of hostile Pokemon in this stretch of the woods. Quacklin' relaxed contentedly. Even if these woods had no other Farfetch'd in them - Quacklin' knew that his kind were rare - he knew he could probably make his long-time home here.

    Quacklin' leaned against the tree trunk, sighing contentedly as he gazed at the forest he would now call home.

    His serenity did not last long.

    Something hit his head. Quacklin' realized, as his heart rate quickened, that it was a net, and he was now trapped inside. It was a small net - the tough webbing dug into his feathers - and Quacklin' began to panic. Poachers! Why hadn't heh thought of that? In his joy of discovering his new home he had completely forgotten about the biggest threat to his species' livelihood.

    Crying out in distress, Quacklin' thrashed around, but the net held firm. He tried every attack he knew to break the net, but even after many attempts he was still trapped inside. Quacklin' cried out again. Surely the forest Pokemon would come to his aid? He saw a Litleo in the distance running towards him, and his heart filled with hope. But the spark vanished when he saw a human, an adult female, land lightly on the tree limb next to him. She had short brown hair and was wearing dark glasses and camouflage clothing. At the sight of the woman, the Litleo slowed down, its eyes wide with fear. The woman roughly grabbed Quacklin' and tucked him under her arm. Trapped by the net, Quacklin' could only watch in dismay as his captor dashed through the woods, leaving the Litleo in the dust.

    Quacklin' called out desperately as the woman ran. He could hear his captor cursing under her breath as forest Pokemon popped out of their hiding places and ran after the woman, calling out in anger. The woman coolly retrieved a Poke Ball from her belt and threw it into the air. With a bright flash of light, a Pokemon materialized - Quacklin' recognized it as a Togekiss. The poacher gazed intently at her large, white Pokemon and used her thumb to frantically point behind her.

    With a nod, the Togekiss screeched and fired off a razor-sharp current of air towards the forest Pokemon that until this point had managed to keep up with Quacklin's captor. Quacklin' watched in dismay as the Air Slash attack connected with the Pokemon nearest him, a Riolu, and knocked the Fighting-type out instantly.

    The Togekiss was brutal. It continued to rapidly fire off Air Slash attacks at the forest Pokemon. Soon it became apparent that the large Fairy-type was much more powerful than the forest Pokemon, because after a few more Pokemon dropped to the ground the remaining forest Pokemon turned tail and fled, fear and guilt in their eyes.

    Quacklin' watched as his captor smirked and recalled her Togekiss to her Poke Ball. The Farfetch'd looked around desperately. The Pokemon the the forest were not powerful enough to help him, so now his best bet of escape was another human. He called out again, hoping that someone would hear him, as his captor continued running through the woods.

    The poacher reached a clearing and ran towards a large bush, crouching behind it. There was a young man behind the bush, with dark sunglasses and brown hair matching the woman's. The woman opened her mouth to speak, but the man quieted her by giving her a pointed look and raising his index finger to his lips. He nodded approvingly at the trapped Farfetch'd under the woman's arm and glanced warily over the top of the bush. The woman followed his gaze before dropping even lower to the ground, her grip on Quacklin' not loosening.

    The forest was silent. Quacklin' couldn't see anything from where he was, but he could hear slow, hesitant footsteps approaching the bush where the poachers hid. Quacklin' felt a glimmer of hope - those footsteps belonged to a human! He called out for help, and the footsteps came faster. He was going to be rescued.

    Quacklin's captor cursed and pulled something out of her belt. She stood up quickly, the Farfetch'd still tucked under her arm. The woman turned towards the direction of the footsteps, and Quacklin' saw the source of the footsteps: a small girl with snow-white hair and beautiful blue eyes, who probably wasn't any older than eight. The girl's eyes widened with horror as Quacklin's captor loomed in front of her. The brown-haired woman pointed her gadget at the white-haired girl.

    Quacklin's blood turned to ice. It was a gun.

    Everything happened so fast. There was a popping noise. The little girl staggered around the clearing clumsily for a few steps before falling to the ground.

    But there was no blood. There was no blood. Quacklin's mind whirled. Guns were horrors of fiction - Quacklin' didn't know that they actually existed in the Pokemon World. One shot fired from a gun could kill a human. Even Pokemon, which were normally so tough, could die from gunshot wounds - die, not just faint. But lethal guns produced a loud noise when fired, and left bloody wounds in the victim. When the poacher fired her gun at the girl, there was neither blood nor a loud noise. So maybe the little girl was still alive…

    She was! Quacklin' had never felt so relieved. He could see the faint rise and fall of the girl's prostrate body. But was she hurt? Would she need help? These questions were still in Quacklin's head when his captor calmly sat down, taking the Farfetch'd down with her and blocking his view of the unconscious girl.

    The young man had watched this whole scene unfold and now gaped at his female companion. His wide eyes betrayed feelings of shock and disapproval, and he began backing away from the young woman. Quacklin's captor sighed and dropped her gun at the man's feet. At this gesture the man began to relax. He picked up the gun and nodded, smiling and handing it back to the woman.

    By this time Quacklin' had been struggling for so long that his body felt completely drained of energy. He hung limp from his captor's grip, utterly overwhelmed by the events of the day.

    The man dug into his bag and pulled out his own gun. Quacklin' noticed that this one was silver rather than blue. Before Quacklin' could comprehend what this meant, the woman placed the Farfetch'd on the ground. That's when Quacklin' realized what was happening.

    He heard a clicking noise as the man pointed the gun's muzzle at the Farfetch'd's head. The woman moved backwards and nodded.

    The was a deafening noise, and everything was gone.

  2. Hi there! That was an interesting read. I like how you explored the mechanics of being stored and released. That scene where Quacklin' was being released was a real surprise, and I like how you gave a more "realistic" explanation of what happens whenever we actually do release Pokemon from the PC.

    The piece is very strong on a visual level - each scene, especially the scenes in the PC, is described meticulously, though not to the point where it becomes overbearing. Sure, I would find it odd that Pokemon itself have their own version of social media, but since you introduced the concepts well and described them to an extent that makes them believable, the oddness of it didn't really bother me, so good job there.

    You also did well in characterizing Quacklin'. I like how you used memories here since you don't have the luxury of using monologues or conversations, and his simple sighs and monotonous actions say enough to know what's going on, what he's thinking, and how he is as a Pokemon.

    I am partial, though, to how the plot of the story is structured. The first half of the story was pretty much straightforward in building up to the release, what with Quacklin's comparisons of himself with Litleo and his friends on PokeBook and his frequent reminiscing of his times outside his Poke Ball. When Quacklin's is released, I like how he takes the time to fully think about what just happened and the benefits that can come out of it. Those paragraphs on describing his freedom were really good in conveying his emotions.

    But when the poachers came in, I became a bit confused in what the story was trying to go for. Yes, the last scene with the poachers is pretty much expected given Farfetch'd's Pokedex entries, so I'm not criticizing the realism of the situation. But when I got to the end, I was left wondering what the intended direction of the story is. There is quite a disjunct between the first half (pre-release) and the second half (post-release) of the story that when Quacklin' was captured by the poachers, it felt like I was reading a different story that was only linked by having the same protagonist.

    I guess I'm looking for some sort of underlying idea that connects those two parts. Right now, what I'm seeing is that Quacklin' got the short end of the stick with how humans treat Pokemon. At first we see how he's being neglected by Calem to the point that he's released without even being said goodbye to, then we see poachers hunting Quacklin' that eventually leads to his demise. In both instances we see a bit of hope in Quacklin's original trainer and in the little girl, but they ultimately don't follow through. Quacklin' even shows empathy for humans, most especially to the little girl but even to how fondly he describes Cliff and Calem, so seeing that empathy betrayed is heartbreaking.

    But aside from that, the two halves don't make too solid a whole for me right now because they have a weak connection to each other. I think the transitioning between the release and the capture can be improved so the latter doesn't feel like it came out of nowhere plot-wise (since, well, it does come out of nowhere in the context of the story). Not too sure what this transitioning should consist of since monologues and dialogues are out of the question, but maybe some sort of look into what Quacklin' thought of Calem releasing him? When you mentioned Cliff's house, I was sort of expecting Quacklin' at least looking into it and seeing how his trainer is doing. Maybe that can strengthen the human-Pokemon contrast more?

    Overall, though, it's a good story, and the two halves are written very well. If you can connect them into one compelling whole, it'll be a really great read. Good job on it, American--Pi, and congratulations on fulfilling the prompt! :)
  3. [Imaginative]:[Clockwork]

    [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] X-treme trainer

    When I first started reading, I was thinking that this story is really cute and reads sort of like it's written for a younger audience. When I got to the end, though, I had obviously changed my mind. :p Still, although I agree with Dramatic Melody about the story being a little disjointed toward the middle (more on that in a second), I do think the starkly different tone of the second half really jerks the reader out of the cutesiness of the first half. It's pretty effective, too, since during the chase scene I was just expecting Quacklin' to summon some inner strength or something kind of typical to save himself. The realism of Quacklin' encountering what people like that would do with a notoriously tasty and rare pokemon became a lot more surprising because of how the story started. I especially liked the fakeouts with the valiant wild pokemon or the little girl whose description all but promises she's the chosen hero come to save the day.

    However, I do think the separation between beginning and end hurt the story a little. It feels like we spend a lot of time on both when neither defines the entire story. If the first half were shorter, I could see it being a tease that leads the reader into thinking this is a certain kind of story before quickly pulling the rug out and revealing that this is actually a story about Quacklin's Worst Day Ever. If the second half were shorter, it would definitely become more of a twist ending. As it is, both read like they're just a little too long, as if they're committed to accomplishing different purposes. Honestly, though, that might have been your point, since given the title and the way the story seemed to be headed in the beginning, I expected the "twist" to be him getting released, and I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out he was happy about it and you had more story to tell.

    With that and several other examples, the one-shot kind of jerks the reader around, and I thought it was fun. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but it seems like you have a pretty good awareness of what your readers probably expect as they're reading, which you use to surprise them by doing something else. So despite some small criticisms, in the end I realized it was an entertaining read that I could never quite predict and which had a really effective ending. I liked it!
  4. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Sorry about the late reply guys, I was waiting around for the promised mod review for completing the prompt but I'm gonna reply now because I don't really want to wait any longer. :p Thanks for the feedback by the way; you two are really good and experienced writers and reviewers. :)

    Thank you! I intended for Quacklin's release to be a surprise, because when I thought about the experience of being released for a Pokemon I realized that it must be quite a shock to be chilling in your Poke Ball one moment and in the wild the next.

    Thanks! I was inspired by this, which I expanded on to create my own theory of what goes on in a Poke Ball. I actually didn't pay too much attention to description - I just made sure that I described the inside of a Poke Ball well enough to satisfy the story. I'm glad it worked out fine.

    Oh wow, I never thought my characterization of Quacklin' was a strong point here. I just wrote what I thought any Pokemon would think when put into Quacklin's position. I did take care to give him some characterization however - he's optimistic enough to not feel too much resentment of his situations.

    I was a little worried that, by conveying Quacklin's thoughts, I would break the "no dialogue" rule. I'm glad it turned out fine, conveying Quacklin's emotions while sticking to the rule.

    That was pretty intentional, haha. I intended for there to be quite the mood whiplash - It's like, "yay, I'm chilling in my Poke Ball", then "no, I'm released" then "yay, I'm free now" then "no, I've been captured." I intended for the story to have sudden turns, to make the reader feel as disoriented as Quacklin'.

    Yeah, looking back I'll admit that Quacklin's empathy for humans feels kind of unfounded. However, that was part of the characterization I intended - Quacklin' isn't exactly very bright, and he genuinely tries to see the good in people. He's optimistic, and looks at his negative situations like they're no big deal. Maybe if I had more description of Quacklin's character and thoughts, then his feelings towards humans would make more sense.

    On another note, I fully intended for this story to play with the readers' emotions, at least a little. That's why I portrayed Quacklin' as quietly optimistic and positive, only to have bad things happen to him partially because of his lack of caution.

    I intended for the two halves of the story to be very disjointed, because that's how I think being released feels like. However, you do have a good point when you bring up Cliff - I originally intended for Quacklin' to look into Cliff's house and make sure Cliff was okay, only to find the house empty. I actually have no idea why I scrapped that part of the story - maybe because I wanted this to be a sad story (I've actually never written a story with a tragic ending before, so I wanted to give it a try.). But good point, I could have figured out a way to have the story end tragically while not completely dismissing Cliff.

    Thank you! It was fun to do. :)

    Like I said before, the disjointedness between the two halves was pretty intentional, as were the empty promises of the wild Pokemon and the little girl. As I mentioned, I intended for this story to be jarring and tragic. I didn't intend for it to be "cutesy" at all, so you're right, maybe I should have made the cutesy first half shorter for the sake of more consistency (more on that later).

    While the ups and downs of the story were intentional, you do have a point about the two halves being too disconnected. I was intending to project a bored, calm scene and then suddenly jerk the reader out of it, but looking back the calm scene could have dragged on less.

    Thanks! I'm glad my one-shot had that effect on readers. It was totally intentional, so I'm glad it worked.

    Once again, thanks so much for your reviews. Although I'm still waiting for a moderator to review this as promised, that may not even be necessary considering how good the reviews I've gotten are. This was a fun challenge to do, and I'm looking forward to completing more FFQ challenges in the future. :)

    - Pi
  5. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    I am so sorry for the belated review - I’ve been working on it off and on for quite awhile, and have made it pretty detailed, which I hope isn’t too intimidating!

    To start off, I rather like the idea behind this fic. I love that it centres around a Pokémon you get in an in-game trade (I have a weakness for fics that focus on minor characters), and it’s rare to see a fic about a Pokémon who never gets to battle and knows it and doesn’t like it. I also like to see fics about releasing Pokémon, especially when the focus is on them trying to get used to living in the wild. This is especially interesting in cases where the Pokémon has only experienced tamed life with humans, and it can be fascinating exploring their adjustment (or inability to adjust) to this new way of living. You have also successfully completed the challenge of writing a fic with no dialogue, so congrats!

    That said, I found myself asking the question “what is this fic about?” Is it about how good the lives of human-owned Pokémon are? Is it about how human-owned Pokémon become soft and aren’t ready for the real and scary risks of the “real world?” Is it about the ruthlessness of Pokémon poachers? I think it’s important to choose one or two things and focus on them, making them the central focus of the story and finding ways to highlight and make your point, whatever it might be, to make your work feel more cohesive.

    I noticed a stark contrast between how much time you devoted to describing the interior of the Pokéball versus all of the other locations. Since Quacklin’ spends a lot less time in his Pokéball compared to out in the world, this is a rather strange choice. Remember that description can really help set the scene, and the details you choose to describe should say something about the characters and the story. This means you need to make conscious decisions about what you choose to describe. What does it say when Quacklin’ spends more time admiring the interior of his Pokéball where he has lived for a long time than the rest of the whole wide world he is exploring for the first time? This is definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

    One of the improvements in your writing I noticed is that there is a lot less exposition dumping throughout the fic - when you do provide information, it generally feels a lot more natural and less forced than in some of your previous works, so good job! You also didn’t have the issue of awkward dialogue here, though it certainly helps that the prompt was for there to be no dialogue, haha. Still, the interactions between characters felt pretty solid, so definitely try and carry that over when you do have dialogue.

    The only point in this fic where the exposition was really a problem was the beginning, when you gave all this detail about Quacklin’s living space. What I’m wondering is what the point was in devoting so much time to describing the interior of the Pokéball or how Pokébook worked. While it definitely makes for fun world-building, the question is, how relevant is this information for the story? What does this tell us about Quacklin’ and his living conditions, and how does that inform other parts of the fic? Once he gets released, everything we learned becomes pointless information - it never gets brought up again, and at no point does he reflect on what it was like living in his Pokéball. While these can be fun details, try to focus on information that’s relevant to the story you’re trying to tell.

    One specific example of this is bringing up Team Flare and Team Plasma’s activity. These sound like they would be plot-important details, but they don’t seem to amount to anything. Instead, you could perhaps use the space you devoted to them to offer a nugget about Pokémon poaching to provide some foreshadowing. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as “there has been a rise in Pokémon poaching,” but perhaps something about how there has been a rise in activity on the Pokémon black market, or that foreign Pokémon have become more sought-after. Similarly, what is the point of describing PokéBook? Also, assuming all of this tech, and PokéBook itself, is created by humans, how do legendaries have access to it? How are Pokémon taking photos and videos outside their Pokéballs? What language do they communicate in? If Pokémon are given access to computers and social media, how can they still be treated like animals by humans? If this were a different story with a different narrative it would be awesome to have those questions answered and to hear more about Quacklin’s use of Pokébook, like who his friends are and what photos and videos he sees there. But as it is, this entire paragraph raises a lot of questions that won’t get answered in the fic. This fic would be entirely unchanged if you removed all of this information, and since it doesn’t really inform the rest of the story, it might just be best to drop it.

    With all that said, I enjoyed your depiction of the experience of being released. The panic at the feeling of shrinking and then confusion as Quacklin’ realizes he isn’t being sent into battle works pretty well. I like that he recognizes that something isn’t quite right, his surge of joy at seeing Cliff’s house before realizing he’s been released. I thought it was unique and fairly realistic.

    I did, however, find that the end of the fic happened pretty quickly. It feels like he has been out in the world for all of 20 minutes before he gets captured, which feels rushed, both because it seems way too convenient that poachers happened to be so nearby, and because we don’t get to see Quacklin’ adjusting to life as a wild Pokémon. You have a really unique opportunity to show a Pokémon who has been hand-trained all his life and been privy to so much luxury learning how to fend for himself, find food and shelter, and learn to both protect himself from and live alongside other Pokémon. The pacing here feels somewhat weird as a result, and again, it makes me unsure of what story you wanted to tell.

    Lastly, the ending felt a little over-the-top. I assume they use a stun-gun on the little girl (though even that is a bit excessive), but killing Quacklin’ on the spot seems pointlessly ruthless as well as stupid. I’m no expert on poaching, but depending on what the poached animal will be used for, you usually wouldn’t kill it on the spot. In some cases, it’s worth more alive than dead. If it were being used for food (which seems likely based on the Pokédex entry), I imagine a cook would want it butchered a specific way. Professional poachers would likely want to sell a healthy, living Pokémon to get the most bang for their buck, so he probably should have been stunned instead of killed.

    Spelling and grammar was overall good; you have a strong grasp of punctuation, language and structure, though some minor mistakes did fall through the cracks. I have highlighted these, as well as other little nitpicks I had with the fic, though all can be fairly easily fixed.

    Should be “since he had gone to sleep,” and to remove the redundancy at the end I would just say “which both comforted and irritated Quacklin’.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by this, as one doesn’t really wonder something half-heartedly. Though on the topic of jealousy, Quacklin’ seems pretty satisfied with his Pokéball, so it’s a bit surprising that he’s jealous of those in Great Balls. If he’s unsatisfied with his living situation, find a way to show that earlier on that shows instead of tells.

    You can’t really have a battle run through your veins - maybe something more like “to have the excitement of a battle running through his veins”.

    You can always look for ways to trim down your sentences - short sentences are also very effective during action, especially in moments of panic. So for instance, you can sum up the entire first clause with one word: confusion, and you can do just that. You can also look for more visceral ways to show emotion, so instead of saying “[Character] felt [emotion],” find ways to show that emotion with a particular action. So the beginning of this sentence could be “Confused, Quacklin’ squawked in terror,” which is both shorter and also paints a more visceral image in the reader’s mind of how Quacklin’ is reacting.

    How can he tell? What does it feel like to be in a small space that goes from being stationary to moving very quickly and then bounding? What does that feel like?

    Show, don’t tell! The second half of this sentence is rather weak, and is almost unnecessary. The reader can likely guess that Quacklin’ wants the light to go away, but if you want to drive this home for the reader, then find ways to show that Quacklin’ wants it to end through his actions and emotions rather than just outright stating it. What do you imagine him doing?

    You should definitely add that his eyes were shut before this. That said, instead of just telling us “he felt this and that,” show it to us by describing the warmth of the sun on his tense muscles, the wind ruffling his feathers soothingly, the hard, uneven surface under his webbed feet.

    How does he know it’s Cliff’s house? Tell us what it is about this house that he recognizes, perhaps give us a glimpse into his memories. I agree that I expected Quacklin’ to at least see if Cliff was home.

    Qucklin’ seemed to be doing a pretty fine job, so it’s unclear what he had to adjust to, or what he had to do to adjust. In addition, some description of the view from high in the air would have been great here.

    I’m curious to know how he came to this decision! That decision-making process would give us some nice insight into his character.

    How does he know it’s poachers, and how does he know poachers specifically go after Farfetch’d? There’s also a small typo on the "he."

    Show, don’t tell! Show us Quacklin’ using each attack, his desperation rising as each one fails.

    More visceral detail here could go a long way, as this feels more like a summary of what’s going on. Tell us what Pokémon they are, how many of them are there, how closely they’re able to follow, and consider adding the sounds of the creatures scrambling through the brush as they hop over roots, paws scraping over rocks and dead leaves or splashing through ponds. I’m also surprised that the Pokémon want to help him - if you can give some indication as to why they’re helping Quacklin’ in a way that doesn’t feel too info dump-y that could be nice.

    Should be “Pokémon of the forest.”

    I thought Quacklin’ has been crying out this entire time? If he stopped, what silenced him?

    This strikes me as very odd for someone in the Pokémon world to say, especially considering that Quacklin’ apparently has internet access and whatnot. Also, while true, a single gunshot wound won’t usually kill unless it’s hit a vital organ.

    You never mentioned that the other gun was blue.

    Congrats once again on completing the challenge! It seems like you had an ambitious project here, but overall it feels like you got a little lost when trying to decide exactly what the fic was going to be about, and I felt it lacked direction and purpose as a result. Remember that the things you describe and focus on should say something about the characters and should serve some purpose in telling the story, so you want to be careful and not get caught up in giving too much information about unnecessary details. Figure out what's important and focus on that. Show, don’t tell; instead of saying “he felt this” and “he used attacks,” get specific and show us why Quacklin’ feels that way and what attacks he used, and continue using all five sense in your description.

    I definitely see improvement from your previous fics, and I see potential here. The premise is solid and there were a lot of great moments, and I would love to see you build on these ideas. Practice makes perfect, and I think you are absolutely capable of honing your skills and taking them further. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

    All the best,
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  6. AmericanPi

    AmericanPi Write on

    Hey Psychic! Wow, that's a really long, detailed, and helpful review! Thanks a billion for taking the time to write the promised mod review. It really gave me something to chew on, and I learned a lot from it as well.

    To address some of your points:
    • I'm glad that my exposition is generally getting better. I have a tendency to info-dump, and I'm glad I did it better this time around. However, I'm still violating the "show, don't tell" rule a lot. Which brings me to:
    • Heh, you mentioned several times that I should show instead of tell. Many times, in fact! Violating the "show, don't tell" rule has always been a weakness of mine, from my Tall Tales contest entry many years ago to Shifting Game to this one-shot. I didn't know that I was breaking the rule again, but your review confirmed it. I had no idea that I was breaking the rule so many times! While I was writing everything seemed natural to me, and I had no idea that it was an issue. It's definitely something that I'll pay attention to in the future.
    • Like I mentioned before, I used the first (pre-release) half of the story to do some world-building and advance my theory on what was inside a Poke Ball. I built my theory upon the link I provided, and I was really looking forward to a way to express my theory. However, I do agree with you, Dramatic Melody, and [Imaginative]:[Clockwork] that the detailed description of life inside a Poke Ball isn't that relevant to the story, and should have been trimmed down for the sake of storytelling. (I wouldn't want to remove it, though, as I'm pretty proud of my PokeBook idea.)
    • Hmm... looking back at my fic, the ending does seem quite rushed and over-the-top. The reason why I had Quacklin' suffer a sad fate was because I've literally never written anything with a sad ending before, and I wanted to try it. Since Farfetch'd are sought after by poachers, I thought a sad ending wouldn't be that hard to do. Turns out my ending, while it makes sense, could use more work and details put into it.
    • Also, I know that the poachers just so happening to be there seems kind of random, but nobody does illegal things in broad daylight, and I thought the poachers being there would be some nice irony/surprise. IDK.

    Once again, thanks so much for your really helpful review. I don't mind that it took a while for it to be posted, because man, that was a really, really nice and detailed review.

    - Pi
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2015
  7. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly

    I'm really glad it helped! It's been quite a privilege watching your skills develop, and it means a lot to me that you've been so receptive and eager to continue. :> To respond to some of your points:

    Don't stress too much about this! The thing I also want to clarify is that "show, don't tell" doesn't apply to all situations in writing; there are definitely instances where telling is more effective than showing, so this isn't a hard and fast rule! The important thing is learning when to show and when to tell. It's not always easy to decide which one to use, and there isn't always a right or wrong answer, so it's something you have to learn through experience, imo. In the instances I pointed out, there's a lot of room for your writing to be really evocative, and paint a picture in the reader's mind, creating a vivid picture of what's going on or of how the characters feel. Those specific little details go a long way to make a scene feel real. Writing can be very powerful in that way, so my hope is that you'll start to see more instances where you can use that to your advantage. :>

    Like I said, I like the world-building you've done here and find it a lot of fun, and I totally get wanting to keep it. We all have bits of headcanon we want so badly to share! The important thing is picking the time and place for showcasing that world-building. There are definitely instances where these details would both be enlightening and fit in - I just don't think this is one of them. Generally, my advice is to save anything you've written but that doesn't quite fit in in a separate document, and either insert it into a fic where it belongs, or keep it as a fun tidbit for an Author's Note sometime. You don't have to trash perfectly good headcanon; just save the explanation for a situation where it fits better.

    Sad endings are totally fine, and it's great that you wanted to branch out and try something you hadn't done before! Plus you now know that a sad ending works here, but that it also needs some tweaking. It was your first attempt - don't worry that it isn't perfect, and use this as an opportunity to learn for the future.

    I have to admit I'm not quite sure what you mean, here. Poachers likely do operate in the day, but the fact that they appear during the day isn't really the issue, here. It's still a surprise, and being captured by poachers works as an ending. The problem is more just how quickly they find Quacklin' - both from 1) an in-universe perspective and 2) a writing perspective, and I don't think that services the story. To elaborate:
    1) In the universe of your fic, Quacklin' gets released, and it feels like he's only been wandering around for 20 minutes before he gets captured by poachers. It's hard for readers to suspend their disbelief and believe that this could happen so quickly.
    2) From a writing/narrative perspective, readers want to see Quacklin' spend a couple of scenes getting used to living in the wild and adjusting to his new life. This pads out the story a little bit, giving it a stronger middle act, and will make the climax of his capture feel less rushed and have a bigger impact.

    I'm glad the review was helpful and worth the wait, and if you have any further questions or want any clarifications, please feel free to ask!


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