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Burnt Sierra
Righto, the results of the first Chorrol TES Fanfiction Competition.

First let me give you some understanding of how it's been scored. The public vote counted for 50% and the judges votes counted for 50%. Obviously with only three judges, I had to find a way of balancing out the scoring. I don't want to post specific scores up here, as I'm not sure that every author will neccessarily want that information being made public. Obviously some were very close, and some not so close. If an author wants to know how I decided the scoring system, and how their piece specifically scored that's absolutely fine. Send me a pm and I'll give you that information.

It's been a difficult competition to judge to be honest. Even amongst the judges, we had very different opinions. Resulting in none of us choosing the same story in first place. Which just goes to show that there were some really good stories entered biggrin.gif

Secondly comments. All three of judges have written some comments on the stories, which I'll post up on a story by story basis after the results.
Burnt Sierra
So, first up. The results of the public voting. This counted for 50% of the final score.

1. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
2. Reunion by Olen
3= This Mind: Now Under New Management by Milanius
3= Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
5. In The Heart Of The Alik'r by Canis216
6. That Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
7. A Knife In The Dark by Redsrock
8. Lady Of The Night by DUI
Burnt Sierra
Secondly, the votes of the judges. This counted also for 50% of the final score.

1. Reunion by Olen
2. In The Heart of the Alik'r by Canis216
3. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
4. Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
5. This Mind Now Under New Management by Milanius
6. A Knife In The Dark by Redsrock
7. The Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
8. Lady Of The Night by DUI
Burnt Sierra
Each individual judges results that were added up to make the above decision (bear in mind that none of the judges knew who'd written any of the stories):

Minque

1. Reunion by Olen
2. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
3. Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
4. A Knife In The Dark by Redsrock
5. In The Heart of the Alik'r by Canis216
6. The Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
7. Lady Of The Night by DUI
8. This Mind Now Under New Management by Milanius

Treydog

1. This Mind Now Under New Management by Milanius
2. Reunion by Olen
3. In the Heart of the Alik'r by Canis216
4. Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
5. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
6. Lady Of The Night by DUI
7. The Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
8. A Knife in the Dark by Redsrock

BSD-IES

1. In The Heart of the Alik'r by Canis216
2. Reunion by Olen
3. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
4. This Mind Now Under New Management by Milanius
5. Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
6. A Knife In The Dark by Redsrock
7. The Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
8. Lady Of The Night by DUI
Burnt Sierra
The Final Scores (Judges and Public combined):

1. Reunion by Olen
2. The Mistake by The Metal Mallet
3. In the Heart of the Alik'r by Canis216
4. Butterfly by Exu Bexu Mexu
5. This Mind Now Under New Management by Milanius
6. A Knife in the Dark by Redsrock
7. The Fateful Night by Gaius Maximus
8. Lady Of The Night by DUI

Meaning...

The winner of the first Chorrol TES Fanfiction competition is:

Reunion by Olen

Congratulations Olen! biggrin.gif
redsrock
Congrats, Olen.
canis216
Yes, congratulations are due to Olen--excellent work.

And really, mad props to everyone who entered.

And big thanks to the judges. I know how difficult it can be to evaluate the written work of others--I didn't envy you your task.

Burnt Sierra
Wow, you guys are quick, I haven't finished posting everything up yet blink.gif

Now, the judges comments, and we start with:

Treydog


This Mind: Now Under New Management

Highly creative. Carries the feel of stream-of-consciousness without being so obscure as to be unreadable. The material glides effortlessly, as the Mad God seeks reinvention, reincarnation, rebirth… Better still, the linkage of Sheogorath with the Joker is a nice touch, a nod to the universality of myth.

Reunion

This piece brings to Oblivion one of the things most lacking in the game play- emotion. The player character goes from task to task mechanically, with no sense of how his/her actions affect the world. The writer here corrects that omission with a powerful tale of loss and consequences. That said, a bit of proofreading would have caught some jarring errors- e.g. “though” for “through” in a couple of places, “torn” windows(?) The conclusion, that impossible choices can break even the strongest champion, adds dimension.


In the Heart of the Alik’r

This is a story that starts well and then fails to completely deliver on its promise. I think this is another victim of the word count. However, in this case it could perhaps have been fixed by cutting some of the earlier material and giving more attention to the fight. Some things don’t quite scan- “rebel and king faced each other….” When did Desalius become a king? But the overall feel is literate, well-crafted, a fine piece of writing.

Butterfly

Certainly the most experimental and imaginative piece. There are some real gems here- the story of the cats- and the moral of the story of the cats. While it can be read as being so obsessed with another person that we fail to recognize some third person’s feelings, it can also be read as a comment of self-absorption to the exclusion of letting anyone else in….

The Mistake

Creative, literate, and generally well-rendered. Anything that varies from the usual “I am the hero” perspective is worthwhile. The moments of lucidity when the narrator can recognize that something has gone terribly wrong are nicely done.

Lady of the Night

In the end, I come away feeling as if this is a good outline for a longer story. There are so many factions and plots that the 2000 word limit is a real handicap. The ideas are imaginative and intriguing- there just isn’t enough time to realize their full potential. Some phrasing and word choice were awkward… I think as an extended story, with more time to develop the plot, this will be quite good.

Fateful Night

The idea is a good one- not everyone is a noble, an adventurer, or a soldier. Events that affect the world also affect “ordinary” people. Therefore, what might those events look like from such a perspective. So far, so good. However, I would have preferred to see more of Cidius as a person, someone with a family. Instead, we get a long discussion of his discontent with his position- and that does not really make him a sympathetic character….

A Knife in the Dark

A solid story, although the ending did not come as a surprise. There are good descriptive details and a fine sense of characterization. It might have been useful to go deeper into the fears/loathing of the Council- e.g., "Skingrad has had to struggle against the legacy of Janus; we cannot afford to have another monster on the throne. This isn't personal- it's just business. And having a vampire as Count is bad for business." The writing shows definite promise, and I hope the author will continue to polish his/her craft.


Conclusion

This was difficult, and I wavered on my choices. The stories are an impressive tribute to the skill of the writers. There is a lot of imagination here and a wonderful diversity of styles and techniques. I don’t expect everyone (or maybe anyone) to agree with my order; reading is often a matter of taste and your mileage may vary. What I do hope to see is all of these writers continuing to hone their considerable talents. I will be glad to discuss specifics in more detail with the writers- feel free to PM me.
Burnt Sierra
Minque

It was hard to rank those stories, at least a couple of them. I'm afraid my comments are not so extensive, it would have been too much of a repetition...

Reunion

Fascinating story, despite its deep darkness. Good language, well written, with good descriptions without being too detailed.

The Mistake

Interesting story, well written with a good build-up of tension. Good descriptions.

Butterfly

This appeals to me as a sort of poem, really not easy to comprehend unless you read it several times. Then it has its sheer beauty, as a poem, not a story that is. Language is very good though…

A knife in the Dark

Good plot and an interesting ending. Fairly good language and writing style.

The heart of Alik'r

A yukodan story, that is a bit special, and makes it interesting. But too much “army-slash-and-bang” which makes it a tad hard to follow.

The fateful Night

A bit chaotic. Plot is good but it’s hard to get a grasp of it.

Lady of the Night

Strange story, yet still interesting, a bit hacked to pieces due to the chapterization. Dialogue a bit weak imo.

This mind

Very strange. It did not really appeal to me, the capital letters inside the words were a bit disturbing and added merely strangeness to it all.
Burnt Sierra
BSD-IES

Lady of the Night

This is a particularly ambitious piece. You've tried to tell a story, that would probably normally run 40,000-60,000 words, in only 2,000. I have seen this done successfully before, magical realism stories have been known to use this technique, for example “Dead Man” by Jorge Luis Borges. However, it doesn't quite work here. The major problem that I can see, is that you use primarily dialogue. One old cliché, that's taught to every beginning writer, is show don't tell. Here we have characters summarising the action for us, but we don't get to see any of it. All the action, tension, emotions, fear, confusion, excitement – we're just told it all. I'd love to see this written up as a full length piece, as I think it could be great. But as a short story, I'm afraid it falls short for me. You have my admiration for trying such an ambitious project though.

The Fateful Night

This has a lovely idea behind it. Take an ordinary, working man and throw him into an extraordinary situation. The situation here being the invasion of Kvatch. This suffers from structural problems first and foremost though. There's too much time spent on the details of his personality and social status before the invasion, and far too little spent on how he deals with the invasion itself. Personally I wanted to see more of the latter - after all that's where the major potential for the story lies. How does he cope, when he's presented with circumstances far beyond his experience. I also feel you needed to clarify your use of language, after the invasion particularly. You've used far too many passive words and phrases, which don't really bring to life the feelings of shock and terror he must be feeling. I can see it in my head, but I can't feel it. Bizarrely you are much more effective in your description in the first half, when possibly we don't need it as much. A good idea, done pretty well, but needed balancing better.

A knife in the dark

This story suffers from two main problems. Firstly there's a serious lack of polish. There's too many mistakes and a couple of what seems to me to be glaring plot holes. The overriding impression I'm left with is that it's been rushed, and I'm at a loss as to why that would be the case. It was one of the first entries received, and there were several days left before the closing date. That's several days that could have been spent thoroughly checking and tightening it. I can only assume that the excitement of having finished it got the better of you. There's a lesson to be learned here. In longer fan fictions, which tend to be episodic in nature, you can post quickly and then go back and edit afterwards. With a competition you need to edit carefully before submitting. Secondly a short story, by its very definition, is short. That may sound facetious, but what it means is that every word has to count. Like the previous story, I don't feel you got the balance right. The idea behind the piece is sound, though the ending could be seen a mile away, a further twist would have done wonders for it. I know there was only two thousand words to work with, but that's what I mean about making every word count. You've chosen to use flowing, naturalistic dialogue that perhaps could have been made much less prominent, which in turn would have freed space up for you in other areas. There's clear ability on show here, but I suspect that the author may not be as used to the different challenge presented by the short form. Lots of promise, but doesn't quite achieve what it could have done.

Butterfly

One thing this contest hasn't shown, is a lack of ambition from our authors. I found this by far the most difficult work to judge, both in terms of my personal response to it, and in comparison to other pieces. At times it's dazzling, at times it's bewildering. There's absolutely wonderful dialogue, running at a crisp, fascinating pace, but no sense of where anybody is. I feel it would work much better as a performance piece, rather than as a story to be read on the page. Whilst parts do truly delight though, I wasn't as sure about the ending. It felt almost added on after the fact. Whilst it's well written, and I have no complaints about the content, it seems almost like it belongs to a different piece. The clash in style from what preceded it jarred somewhat. A terrific effort though. Perhaps the constraints of the written word has actually limited it's effectiveness.

This Mind: Now Under New Management

I suspect my opinion isn't going to be well received for this one. Certainly it's provoked the most extreme reactions. It's very clever, no question. It's very well written, no question. It's very, very gimmicky. Yes, I know the capitals spell out Sheogarath Is Always Watching You Fools, but I found them really distracting. When I'm reading a piece of work, and I can't concentrate on the content because of a stylistic decision on the authors behalf, I'm afraid I tend to get annoyed. You created amazing images and ideas which were starting to delight, and then in the next instant pulled me right out of the story, leaving me staring at the screen in exasperation. In fact I found myself impressed and annoyed all the way through reading this. Usually at the exact same instant. Sheogarath indeed. What is indisputable is that there's an enormous amount of talent and vision in evidence. It's just a shame, for me, that I found it very difficult to concentrate fully on that talent.

The Mistake

Very good, very solidly written story with a nice idea behind it. The plot and the pacing were perfect for this format, and were nicely balanced. Both the before and after sections were effective, with a satisfying resolution. Our narrator is well drawn with plenty of defining characteristics - his confusion is dealt with very well – and I especially liked some of his internal dialogue. The action and the setting were described effectively. I never felt that I was especially drawn into the world through the description, but it wasn't so sparse as to pull me out. There was some excellent descriptive moments in there, the golden blur as the Ordinator came closer springs to mind. The pacing of the story was another plus point. Measured enough to detail everything, yet remaining quick enough to keep it exciting.
As with several stories though, this needed proofing more carefully before submitting. Spelling mistakes, the wrong words used - a thorough check would have picked up those.
All together though, this is a very good piece of work, which I enjoyed very much indeed.

Reunion

Another very impressive piece of work. Dark, gritty and full of emotion it really stood out as an attempt to give depth to the events we know happened. It was aided by some extremely good writing, effective description and good dialogue. Again there were a few spelling mistakes that should have been caught, but overall this was of extremely high quality. I had this alternating between first and second for me all week. In the end I decided on second, but it was ridiculously close. A terrific story.

In the Heart of the Alik'r

I loved this piece. More than any of the other stories, this one really pulled me into the world. I thought it was very well written throughout as well. The language, the use of description, the characterisation was all spot on for me, and it got the balance right as a whole. The tension was built up nicely throughout the piece, peaking towards the final confrontation, and culminating in a satisfying ending, Perhaps the major selling point was that it stuck with me. Other stories I've had to re-read during the course of the week, to remind myself what happened and why. This has remained firmly lodged in my memory, and each time I've read it I've enjoyed it a little more. I can't ask for much more from a story.


Afterword:

Obviously my opinions are subjective, and I only hope my comments havent offended anyone. I've enjoyed reading all of the stories - each of them has had plenty of good ideas, well thought out plots - immensely. Having to judge them against the rest wasn't easy. I suspect many people will not agree with my choices. Fair enough, at the end of the day, mine is just one opinion.

Thank you though, to every contestant that entered smile.gif
redsrock
Are we allowed to post our own comments to what the judges have said?
Burnt Sierra
Of course you are smile.gif

(Be nice though, it wasn't easy trying to judge this...please don't kill me tongue.gif )
redsrock
I have nothing to say against where I placed. As far as I'm concerned I more than earned it, for my story was not very good, especially compared to other stories.

But I just wanted to say that I didn't rush through 'just to be one of the first to get finish'. That is not me, and I take great pride in my work. I would never do such a thing, and that comment sort of bugged me a little.

Other than that you all did a fine job of judging the stories, and I thank you for your time. I just can't wait for the next contest, whenever that may be....
Burnt Sierra
QUOTE(redsrock @ Mar 30 2008, 06:53 PM) *

I have nothing to say against where I placed. As far as I'm concerned I more than earned it, for my story was not very good, especially compared to other stories.

But I just wanted to say that I didn't rush through 'just to be one of the first to get finish'. That is not me, and I take great pride in my work. I would never do such a thing, and that comment sort of bugged me a little.

Other than that you all did a fine job of judging the stories, and I thank you for your time. I just can't wait for the next contest, whenever that may be....


No, that's fair enough. As I said, I felt it could have been edited and proofed better, and there were several days left in which to do it. Bear in mind though, we didn't know who had written what, so any comments we've made are based purely on our impressions from the piece. Not based on you as a person.
redsrock
Oh I know no hard feelings at all, BSD tongue.gif I just wanted to be known that is NOT what happened.
Alexander
I just want to add my own congratulations to the ones already mentioned here. Congrats to Olen! And thank you to all who participated.

Alex smile.gif
treydog
Congratulations to everyone who entered- you are all winners. And that is not just a cliche'- for me, the difference between 1st and 8th was very small.... As I read each story, I looked at it on its own merits. Then I compared. Then I beat my head against the wall, cursing myself for agreeing to be a judge.... Not really. If it would not have driven BSD-IES to distraction and also ruined the point of the contest, I probably would have had about 3 1sts and 2 or 3 2nds.... Beautiful work folks. It was a pleasure to read.
The Metal Mallet
Hey, hey! Second place, not too shabby. I'm actually surprised that mine was considered the fan favourite based on the comments since I personally thought a couple other entries were more impressive than mine and I guess I assumed that most people would think like me tongue.gif

I'm happy with the results and I definitely agree with the final choice of the winner, Olen wrote an awesome story. Congratulations.
minque
Congratulations to all of you! I had a real hard time judging these stories and I sincerely hope none of you feel offended in any way! Like treydog said, there should probably have been 4 1st and 4 second!

Anyway I read all stories with great pleasure....


Good work, all of you!!!!!!!!!
Olen
Wow... blink.gif I didn't expect that.

Honestly though they were all very good. And the critique was very useful so thanks to all. And thanks to the judges and folks who ran it.

I'll have to write something longer some time.
Gaius Maximus
7th place... Well, I'll say, I wasn't expecting anything much better. Fairly satisfied with the results. Not to mention that this was a very good opportunity to recieve some excelent criticism...

There were a lot of excellent entries. Congratulations to all, especially to Olen, what with doing such a fine work. I'll be waiting for the next competition, if just for reading all the submissions.

darkynd
Congratulations to Olen and everybody else! Even though I didn't get a chance to comment (mostly because I'm so very lazy), I did read through most of the stories. They were all of good quality, and I think that most were legitimate contenders. Again, a good job all round.
Agent Griff
I would have posted my own piece, but it exceeded the word limit by a bit (about 3 000 words, not much tongue.gif) so I didn't post anything in the end. I just couldn't edit the story down to 2 000 words since that would have meant cutting...unthinkable amounts of text which could have served the story better, imo. As it was, I still shortened it more than I would have preferred. All in all, congratulations to all those who actually posted something for this competition. I can imagine how you all wrestled with the word limit. Congratulations to Olen for winning and congratulations to all the other seven contenders for writing great stories (considering the word limit). I especially liked Canis' story set in Hammerfell. It just oozed Redguard culture, but it felt a bit too edited.

But, for what it's worth, who was the guy posting the "dude does x, dude meets y" comments? He left me curious due to his...let's say blunt nature. Being blunt can sometimes convey a message better than being courteous, however. In this case, though, it felt too heavy-handed.

Burnt Sierra did tell me, however, when I told him about the word count of my story, that there would be another competition for longer stories. When will that be Burnt? You've made me curious.
Burnt Sierra
QUOTE(Agent Griff @ Mar 30 2008, 09:07 PM) *

But, for what it's worth, who was the guy posting the "dude does x, dude meets y" comments? He left me curious due to his...let's say blunt nature. Being blunt can sometimes convey a message better than being courteous, however. In this case, though, it felt too heavy-handed.

Burnt Sierra did tell me, however, when I told him about the word count of my story, that there would be another competition for longer stories. When will that be Burnt? You've made me curious.


As for the first question, I don't want to publicly name him. I've spoken to him and it's in the past. Let's leave it there smile.gif

Secondly, all will be revealed in time. And it'll be revealed by Alex when that time comes. smile.gif


milanius
Congrats to Olen for writing a dark, brooding and tormenting piece which was, by my own and opinions of a large majority, one of the best stories in this competition. I am also thankful to people and judges for taking my humble contribution seriously, despite its obvious flaws, chaotic and confusing nature. I also apologize for the bold letters... next time, I'll use italic font, I promise. biggrin.gif


Although, I don't know if this is a reason for worry:
QUOTE(BSD-IES @ Mar 30 2008, 05:44 PM) *

...In fact I found myself impressed and annoyed all the way through reading this. Usually at the exact same instant. Sheogarath indeed...
unsure.gif I guess I got into the man's head too much, huh... wait until you see Zarrexaij's Sheo though, she can make your head turn 'round like you're in the damn "Exorcist" movie!
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