|Reviews for The Breaking|
| thewhimsicalbard 10/25/11 . chapter 1
This is an owed review from the August 2011 WCC. Sorry it's so late.
Characters: Personifying abstractions (such as Despair and Hope) is a very interesting concept, because ideally, characters defy abstraction. They are built of concrete images and actions, which are the antithesis of abstraction. And I think it works here, for the most part - the only complaint I have about your characters is that, for as much time as you spend focusing on their interactions, I don't really "see" Hope and Despair visually. They are formless beings, which doesn't always work in a third person limited narrative. Otherwise, though, I think you really pulled it off.
Plot: Even though the characters sometimes were fuzzy, the plot was flawless. You very deliberately led the reader through the story, letting your characters, point of view, and short paragraphs tell the story for you. It was excellent.
Tone: I thought that the tone was appropriate, overall, but there was a sentence every now and again that had some clumsy phrasing, or a paragraph that had some repeated words when a synonym would have worked just as well - those awkward moments detracted from the tone, because this piece was supposed to flow very smoothly. Don't get me wrong - for the most part, it did. Only on occasion did it stumble (though once was in the last, lengthy paragraph).
Enjoyment: While the prompt in and of itself gave away the ending a little bit, I still found myself getting chills at the end of this story. It was almost painful to think of an idea as nice as "hope" as being in league with something like despair. Almost Poe-level with the implied macabre. Didn't stop me from liking it, though!
| Adrenalin 9/18/11 . chapter 1
I am extremely sorry for the lateness of this review, I haven't been able to find a lenghty enough internet access these days.
I liked that you dived straight into the subject with the dialog, and the way you introduced your characters. As soon as we read that first line we know that there are three of them: Hope, its interlocutor and the soldier.
Describing the soldier's physical aspect but not Hope's and Despair's was pretty well done too. They are, after all, entities more than characters. I think describing them would have taken something from the piece rather than add to it. I also like that they are 'it' and not 'he' or 'she' like it must have been tempting to tag them.
I didn't like the 'love' bit that Despair calls Hope, because it takes away their inhumaneness (not a word, is it?). I think it would be better without it, especially since I would imagine that, if Hope and Despair are personnified, then so can be Love, and it would be like calling Hope another name. My logic is a bit twisted, but I hope you understand what I meant.
I really liked the ending. I was almost fooled into believing that the soldier would be saved, but not totally, and I was waiting for the twist, and I loved how you did it. The way you used the sounds and imagery was really good, turning everything around in a way that is at first very promising for the soldier, then very destructing.
Congratulations on winning the WCC!
| twocars23 9/3/11 . chapter 1
I absolutely loved the story! I read it over and over again and every time I read it I got more from it then before. There are so many different things that this can mean and so many different things a person can take from this piece. It was beautifully written with lots of detail but not overwhelming. I loved the fact that hope and despair go hand in hand. Again it was amazing and well deserving of the win.
| darthdevidem01 8/27/11 . chapter 1
It's clear why you won :)
The opening itself did well in setting the scene. We knew the man was injured by your description of him and by him falling, lovely way to show rather than tell (something I must learn from you!). With the way Hope speaks we know his intentions and personality from the get go, that was well done!
Next your characters. I loved Hope and Despair, both were characterized well, I can't expect major development or anything as it's a short story. They were good enough for the duration of the story.
The dialogue was done well, it flowed from the end of one dialogue to the next. So replies didn't seem forced or "fake". Just one thing, I would've preferred it if only one of them used the term "love" when speaking to each other, it would've made their way of speaking different from one another.
The pacing was great and I'm glad it ended where it did. There wasn't much else to tell, you told us of the Hope you put into the man. You also told us early on that despair "finishes off" the humans, so the ending clearly meant it was time to finish off the human. Sorry for rambling on (I do that) but I liked how definitive the end was even if we never saw the man die in front of us.
So I really liked this, keep it up!
| Javajive 8/27/11 . chapter 1
Congrats on winning the WCC! I thought you beat us all by miles with this piece. It really stands apart.
I loved how this story presents the notion that hope is just another instrument in “breaking” a man and by no means any less cruel than despair.
Your opening line is just superb. The cold stand-offish offer to have a go at the man. I’m instantly thrown into a scene where there is no confusion whatsoever what is taking place. The setting painted gloomy and very vividly at the same time, it sent chills up my spine and I thought it a wonderful way to play the characters out and tie in with the prompt. How Hope and Despair toying with the man is likened to a hunt.
I really enjoyed the dialogue between Hope and Despair. How you created their sibling-like quibbling and thereby personifying the two feelings. I like how similar you make them though I’d say Hope is just a tad more brutal than Despair since the latter signifies one having given up or somewhat resigned to one’s fate while hope extends one’s suffering.
The language used is simple and unpretentious but at the same time you create an almost magical feel.
The ending was my favourite part, how Hope lures the man along with a promise just to make the breaking sweeter for Despair. The horrific scene of corpses strewn across the battle field just blew me away, and then how Hope, very dryly hands over the man to Despair.
The only thing that confused me a little was this part of the dialogue: “Have at him, love.”
But I’m not a native English speaker so maybe that’s something you say, it just feels like there is something missing there.
Still, I bend my head in respect. This was a wonderful read and a truly well deserved win by a fantastic writer.
| baited with hypotheses 8/27/11 . chapter 1
"I wasn't complaining, love. You excel at breaking them either way." - Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful line.
Congratulations on winning the August WCC! This is such a breathtaking piece. Now, on to the review...
Dialogue: Poetic but utterly realistic, your choice of words for Hope and Despair match them perfectly. The dialogue just flows so naturally. Kudos to you, since I always struggle with making dialogue believable!
Writing: Like with your dialogue, the string of words you have written just glide on the...I'd say page, since it's more poetic, but the story is not published...yet. Well, whatever, your words just glide, without them being pretentious or syrupy in their meaning. I, for one, know a lot of people who think their writing can be improved by getting the more obscure synonyms of every other word they use. Your words are simple, but they carry a profoundness that is a perfect fit with your theme.
Characters: Your story IS Hope and it IS Despair. You characterized them so wonderfully and brought them some mortality that lurked underneath their abstractness. I love how you emphasized how similar Hope and Despair are, and yet they remain two distinct entities. Hope is a cruel beast, indeed, and your take on the prompt, while literal, works with your characters. Also, props to the man. Poor guy, having his mind toyed with.
Scene: Wonderfully executed - your words are detached (in a good way!), yet tempted the reader to be seduced by Hope. I felt the man's pain as Hope taunted him, and felt this pain turn into this numbness as it was Despair's turn to toy with him. Despite it being supernatural, I know that a lot of your readers will be able to empathize with your characters.
Overall, awesome job! (Eep, I'm running out of adjectives.) Congratulations again, and you totally deserve winning!
| lookingwest 8/18/11 . chapter 1
You won with this, this month, right? If so, YAY, congratulations, you're awesome! I'm excited to read it now :3
Wow, very powerful piece, here. It actually gave me these vibes like from Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels, where Despair and Hope and everything is personified. This really shook with that, I don't know if it was an influence or not but I really enjoyed it! I liked the power that you didn't so much create them into actual people, but you really did just personify them, if that makes any sense. I mean it really struck with me at the very end of the stringing along that hope and despair have on humanity and how they often go hand in hand. So that was done all excellent-like. The dialogue was also really polished and a favorite of mine, they talked very...formally? Maybe it was the "love" that despair used, that was great, I like how you used that in his dialogue.
Per usual I have no problems with spelling or grammar, it's always clean! It was short but to the point and I liked the descriptions of the battlefield at the end and the sounds, I think sounds are sometimes overlooked in prose, at least the kind that make you pause to think, and you do wonders with the silence and the sobbing in the end. Chills, indeed. I can see why you won, there's lots of power here! Well done, Lyra!
| Laoch 8/18/11 . chapter 1
An amazing story Nesasio! Great job in the WCC! :D
Opening/Ending: Both were very good, especially the ending, as it succesfully tied off everything while still leaving a punch of powerful words. The opening was good, but a little empty I found and may have worked better with a bit more definition.
Scene: Excellently done, but a tad confusing at time's. There was some great discriptions and imagery. It just seemed to flick from place to place a couple of times. I did love it though.
Characters: You brought Hope and Despair to life through your words, giving them a life of their own. It did seem that Despair was a bit emptier then Hope, and didn't have as much of a pressence (in my mind.) The interactions between the two was very nice, a clever banter if you will. Also, the man himself, while not actually forefront, was nicely done.
Plot/Pace: There was a good amount of interesting/differentness to this that it kept away from the cliche. It was a new spin on the idea of Hope/Despair relationship, keeping it fresher then some other ideas. It flowed well, not slow nor fast, right in the middle. Awesome all in all.
| Compton 8/15/11 . chapter 1
Hey! I decided to go ahead and get this one in before I forget and yada yada yada boom banned! And yeah, the cycle works that way. Anyway...
Scene: Well basically the scene is the whole story considering the fact that it is for WCC. And the scene was great. What really was interesting is that you depicted Hope and Despair as characters and it was very creative! Well kind of as characters. I don't know how you would describe what they were but the point is it made it interesting. I loved that about the piece.
Dialogue: If you could check my reviews you would know that I'm a big fan of dialogue that flows, and I don't like forced dialogue. So much that I abandon the idea completely when I'm writing if it's forced. I do have to work on that, but the dialogue in this story is perfectly flowed. It was like a perfect river that you can only imagine would exist in heaven. Awesome.
Other: I didn't really know where to put this so I just put it here. And 'this' is the picture that was painted in my mind. I have an imagination that can make a story or a picture out of anything, and it was fun to paint the picture of Hope and Despair. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like I had a million drawings in my head of what they were like.
[Hope grinned and crouched over the man, caressing his filthy temple with eager fingers. A shock ran through the man, dark eyes feverish but turning with renewed determination toward the forest path ahead of him.
Hope's touch birthed an upwelling of emotion that made Despair hungry for its turn, eager to finish him off. But Hope liked to toy with the humans first and Despair so enjoyed watching. It was always better when Hope drew out the hunt. More emotions bubbled to the surface, more energy ripened for the picking...it was only a matter of time before their prey crumbled.]
Need I say more? Wait of course I do. The writing in here was excellent because you didn't even have to describe the characters like right out. Their dialogue and how they 'said' it completely described it for themselves.
Overall, excellent piece, and once again congrats! You deserve it! :)
| Dr. Self Destruct 8/13/11 . chapter 1
I think you did an amazing job of packing in so much emotion into so few words. You've painted a very convincing picture - I really enjoyed reading this, albeit it is a bit depressing. But that is indeed the point of this month's prompt, and I think you nailed it quite well. The fact that Hope is left to play with this man makes me wonder if Despair is truly the most disheartening sensation in this world. A hope gone unrealized, or a hope shattered to pieces (when the man climbs up the rise and sees what's happened to his comrades) truly seems worse than despair. Or, at the very least, it breeds the most potent of agonies; you've shown this perfectly through the man's perseverance when touched by the personification of Hope itself.
[Hope grinned and crouched over the man, caressing his filthy temple with eager fingers.]
I love this image you paint with this sentence. For some reason I picture Hope as being a type of sinister angel, running her (I know you refer to them as 'it', but when I read this I pictured Hope to be a woman) fingers over the man, almost as if she's hungry and can't wait for the opportunity to devour him. The words 'filthy temple' are very powerful; I've always been fond of the metaphor of comparing the human body to a temple.
I thought the very end of this was the best part of all, when Hope prods Despair forward. I find myself wondering what indeed Despair has planned, and considering his name, I'm sure it's anything but good. I find it interesting you give Hope this sinister and dark personality - but it's also refreshing. It's the complete opposite of what so many people believe Hope to mean, and I always love encountering things that pretty much slap me in the face from the shocking or twisted interpretations.
As for the general formatting, I thought this flowed very well, so no suggestions there. Great job, and good luck with the WCC; this is indeed a great piece.
| Katalina Tomas 8/13/11 . chapter 1
This reminded me the old fable, the one where the sun and the wind battle to get a man's cloak off. Not sure if anyone gets it, but oh well. This was like that fable with a twist. I quite liked the twist to it. It's great with the added element of horror to it. Good luck in the WCC!
| Reboundstudent 8/11/11 . chapter 1
Really enjoyed the story; thought it was very descriptive and well-written.
My main criticism would be that Hope and Despair seem rather similar; they don't really have very distinct personalities or characteristics. Unless that's the point? In which case, it should be a little more blatant.
Also, what exactly is the story trying to say? Is it just kind of a fun "no real point" literary exercise? Is it a type of fable, or is there something about human nature, or the nature of hope/despair that it should illustrate? I think if you can really nail down what message you want the reader to get out of the story, Hope and Despair will become clearer characters.
Don't change a thing about the descriptions; absolutely loved the narrative style!
| Sercus Kaynine 8/10/11 . chapter 1
I love clever short pieces like this. It's always interesting to see things like Hope and Despair personified. Especially since Hope is actually a villain, which is an interesting perspective.
I also love some of the descriptions you used, such as the link between weeping and blood at the end. Talk about toying with emotions.
Good job and good luck in WCC!
| wisedec4u 8/10/11 . chapter 1
BRAVO! BRAVO! Excellent. I just love the way this was written with Hope and Despair being embodied in two cruel spirit meant to torment humans. I especially loved the ending when Hope whispered the man ear urging him to press on only to find his fellow soldiers had all been masacred then Despair takes over. Very sad irony to this story that it so laced with truth that its scary. Loved it!
| dellasaurus 8/10/11 . chapter 1
Firstly, I have to say this was SO well written. I like how you didn't just give away the setting or the situation because it just made me want to read on that much more, and I'm glad I did! I have to say, I love the concept of making Hope and Despair characters; hope is usually something we cling to, something that might bring joy, but the way you characterized Hope made it seem so sinister and bleak. I liked that simply because hope really can be sinister at at times. I especially enjoyed the way it whispered in the man's ear, like a ghost or something speaking to him.
What I really loved the most, though, was the way you set out the setting and the imagery you used 'cause it made me feel like I was watching this as a scene in a movie or something. The way yo described the man, dirty and beaten down, the blood oozing from his side; it just made everything really life-like for me. Awesome job! :)